FISH farming is growing in Indiana, adding $15 million to the farm state's agricultural economy last year.
According to a recent report from Purdue University Extension, the fledgling industry has grown by $3.5 million since 2006 and now includes 50 farms, up from just 18 seven years ago.
"While aquaculture is not the most well-known industry in Indiana's agriculture sector, it is definitely present and very important to the state's economy," said Kwamena Quagrainie, aquaculture marketing specialist with the Purdue department of agricultural economics. "The industry has seen steady growth over the past few years, and it is important to know exactly how much economic activity is associated with aquaculture in Indiana."
According to his report, the industry ranges from small-scale producers raising fish in backyard ponds to large-scale farmers growing fish to sell in national and international markets. Produce ranges from fish for human consumption to ornamental fish for aquariums and recreational species that are stocked in private and public ponds and lakes.
Species raised for human consumption include yellow perch, hybrid striped bass, tilapia and trout, as well as marine shrimp and freshwater prawns. Sport fish include catfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and sunfish such as bluegill.
Indiana's soybean alliance sees aquaculture as "the next major new market for Indiana soybeans" and has invested in an initiative to help the industry continue growing in the state. Industry estimates suggest that 1% of the U.S. soybean crop is used in aquaculture as fish feed and that soybean meal is the top protein ingredient in fish feeds worldwide.