Although domestic fish consumption of soybean meal is less than 1% of total domestic use, USB’s Melanie Fitzpatrick is optimistic about its potential.

“Wild catch is stagnant or declining, while consumption will only continue to increase,” she predicts, based on recent National Association of Aquaculture projections. “The growth potential is very exciting if U.S. aquaculture producers can operate profitably.”

From north to south, Illinois has many diverse locations for fisheries in lakes, strip-mine ponds, streams and rivers, says James Garvey, director of Southern Illinois University Carbondale Fisheries, estimating the live fish market generates nearly $2 million in annual sales for Illinois fish producers. Hybrid striped bass are sold to live markets in Toronto and Chicago; largemouth bass and specialty fish represent untapped markets.

To capture a share of growing fish demand, Duane Dahlman, farmer and Illinois Soybean Association director, says soybean farmers must continue to work within agriculture to maintain a reputation for high-quality, plentiful production. 

“We operate with sound, scientific and safe handling procedures,” says Dahlman. “The economy may still be battling a number of challenges, but aquaculture and soybean production contribute to financial well-being, and we provide consumers with many options for nutritious and abundant food from all segments of agriculture.” 

November 2010