The Michigan Aquaculture Association (MAA) represents producers of fish and seafood that are grown in a safe and environmentally sensitive manner. The MAA supports and promotes a well developed and sustainable aquaculture industry in the State of Michigan, through building partnerships between the industry, universities, public agencies, and consumers.
While past aquaculture production in Michigan has mainly focused on production of fish for use as bait, pond stocking, and fee fishing, the future growth of Michigan’s aquaculture industry is in production of fish for human consumption. Worldwide, aquaculture now provides more than 50% of the fish we consume and the United States currently imports 84% of its seafood consumption. The US currently has a seafood trade deficit of over $9.1 billion.
Michigan is well positioned to expand production of seafood aquaculture. With an ample water supply and close proximity to the population centers of the US and Canada, aquaculture can be expanded to provide revenue and jobs throughout the state. With a targeted, systematic, and sustainable growth plan, aquaculture can become a major agricultural contributor to the state and add to the strength of our “locally grown” markets.
The MAA believes Michigan can grow aquaculture from current production of $5 million and 100 direct jobs to over $100 million and 1500 jobs in the next ten years. By focusing on the three most developed markets: trout, shrimp, and tilapia, we believe we can begin a stepped approach whereby investments in the next two years would form the basis for growth to $10-20 million within five years.
Other species and further expansion would build from this base to provide the foundation of reaching the ten year goal. Additional jobs in support of aquaculture production could number 6000, based on an estimated 6:1 multiplier in processing, equipment manufacturing, trucking, etc.
To achieve this growth in the State of Michigan, promotion is required to both consumer and industry, while the regulatory and investing environments need to be encouraging towards this vision. Sustainable aquaculture today is in its early stages of development and with high risk and slow rates of return, will require incentives such as 21st Century Job Funds, Renaissance Zones for Production, and other programs to attract investment capital. In addition, to further reduce risk, proven production models should be approved with minimal delay and confusion regarding regulatory requirements. Through the past efforts of the MAA, Michigan currently has an effective base for aquaculture regulation and we will continue to work to find ways to improve the cooperation between producers, investors, public agencies, and consumers.
Above is a series of eight brief videos inform us about the aquaculture opportunity and how best practices are being used to ensure that fish farming is done sustainably by farmers who act as stewards of natural resources while putting fresh, affordable, and healthy seafood on the table.
The videos span from an overview of the industry, through who benefits and economic impact to interviews with two Canadians working in aquaculture in the Great Lakes, a biologist and a farmer.
For more aquaculture video, click here.