Sales from fish farms in Indiana have more than quadrupled in the past six years from $3.5 million in 2006 to $15 million last year, according to a Purdue report released this week.
The report also shows the number of fish producers have grown from just 18 in 2006 to around 50 this year.
But the industry, which includes all fish producers from small-scale producers selling ornamental fish for aquariums to large fish farms that sell tilapia and shrimp to restaurants, is still small and whether it will continue to grow at such a rapid rate is uncertain.
“The advantage we have in Indiana is the fish species we are producing are not being produced elsewhere,”says Purdue University Aquaculture Marketing Specialist Kwamena Quagrainie, who co-authored the study.
He says Indiana has specialized in unique species, including yellow perch, marine shrimp and freshwater prawns.
But there are still hurdles the industry must overcome before it can become a major market player. Quagrainie says raising fish requires a lot of capital investment, so staying in business can be difficult.
Bell Aquaculture Sales and Marketing Director Jon Bennett an attest to that. The Albany-based company was founded in 2005, and he says it is had to find creative ways to cut overhead costs to remain profitable.
“Our company president has spent a tremendous amount of time in researching and developing certain processes,” he says. “To accommodate, we have also partnered from several agencies to improve what we do and take in technology from other industries sources.”
That includes more efficient filtration systems and technology that reduces water use, which allows them to compete with producers around the world.
Key findings of the Purdue University report:
- The aquaculture industry accounted for 169 jobs in 2012
- Indiana Fish Farms value increased from $3.5 million to $15 million during from 2006 to 2012.
- There are about 50 fish producers in Indiana, compared with 18 in 2006.
- Fish farms provided $101,506 in income taxes and $877,908 in sales tax in 2012.
Ying Chen contributed to this report.