Over the last decade, aquaculture, also known as fish farming, or aquafarming, has developed into a viable commercial industry. The cultivation of fish, or shellfish, under a controlled environment, is indeed similar to farming. It does not impact marine fisheries population as does conventional fishing. With some species such as oysters or salmon, it is an alternative to commercial fishing.
Crucial to establishing a successful aquaculture operation is the acquisition of stock, or seed material. Such material is provided by commercial hatcheries, an industry that has significantly expanded in the last five years. Here are three helpful, preliminary tips which will help you begin in starting a commercial hatchery.
1. Know Your Regulations In most cases, each state's department of environmental protection or management, or department of natural resources has adopted regulations regarding the establishment of commercial fish hatcheries. Typical requirements include quality standards and reporting requirements.
2. Do Your Research A fish hatchery does not necessarily deal exclusively with fish. In fact, on the eastern seaboard, shellfish hatcheries for hard shell and soft shell clams, oysters and scallops outnumber commercial fish hatcheries. Northeast fish hatcheries are generally run by the state to stock fresh water rivers and are not for commercial harvesting.
Alternatively, salmon hatcheries are prevalent in the Pacific Northwest. Where you are located will play a big part in your decision making, when considering the local aquaculture facilities to serve or the local climate.
3. Know Your Resources There are a large variety of professional groups designed to assist and support members of the hatchery industry. Below is a list of links of organizations that are invaluable resources:
East Coast Shellfish Growers Association: The ECSGA represents over 1000 shellfish farmers from Maine to Florida. Their members produce sustainable farmed shellfish while providing thousands of jobs in rural coastal towns. The ECSGA informs policy makers and regulators about the concerns of East Coast shellfishermen.
Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association: The PCSGA performs the same functions as the East Coast association. They represent the entire West Coast, from Alaska to California.
Pacific Shellfish Institute: The institute is a private, non-profit organization conducting publicly-funded research projects to evaluate the ecology, health and diseases of shellfish.
National Shellfisheries Association: The National Shellfisheries Association is an international organization of scientists, management officials and members of industry, all deeply concerned with the biology, ecology, production, economics and management of shellfish resources
U.S. Fish & Wildlife National Fish Hatchery System: Interested only in wildlife restoration and not commercial use, this Web site still contains useful hatchery information.
Fish Farming News: Fish Farming News magazine is the business newspaper for the aquaculture industry
The Fish Site aquaculture news: TheFishSite.com is a leading online news and technical resource for the global aquaculture industry.
Once you become more familiar with the needs of the aquaculture industry and the services provided by commercial fisheries, one should then consider the complexities of starting a small business.