Alternative Crops for an Alternative Industry
number of family farms in the U.S. continues to decrease. It is not uncommon to
hear that another farm or ranch is for sale and an auction is being held to
seems to be the problem? One can
place the blame on a number of factors. Perhaps the most prevalent factor is
simply that farmers are not making enough money from their crops.
fish farming, may be the alternative to conventional farming. Fish farming is
more than just a niche market. Consumption of fish in the U.S. has grown greatly
in the past 10 years. Americans consume more than 14 pounds of fish per capita
each year. According to reports by the United Nations FAO, fish farming must be
encouraged to provide high quality animal protein for a growing world
population. The FAO also reports that the world’s natural fisheries have
reached the limit or ceiling of their productivity. The natural fisheries cannot
support the needs of a growing world population.
fish production increased from over 85 million metric tons in 1985 to over 110
million metric tons in 1995 (USDC). Food
fish production in the U.S. increased from 308 million pounds in 1992 to 768
million pounds in 1998.
gate value increased from $261 million in 1992 to $978 million in 1998 (NMFS).
the usual species like trout, salmon, walleye, catfish, and yellow perch, there
are many other aquatic species which lend themselves well to aquaculture.
markets include food fish, baitfish, ornamental fish, sport/game fish,
crustaceans (crab, shrimp, lobster and crayfish) and even mollusks (muscles,
clams and oysters).
Northern Aquaculture Center is engaged in development of a number of alternative
food fish species such as yellow perch and sunfish. Tropical species for the
aquarium trade such as angelfish, discus and various cichlids are also of
special interest at the NAC.
Northern Aquaculture Center is also working in cooperation with local tropical
fish producers to devise culture protocols for some species of tropicals.