I recently read an article on NPR's website called "Do You Care If Your Fish Dinner Was Raised Humanely?". It got me thinking: was aquaculture the next industry to be targeted by animal activists? All signs point to yes -- in the future, fish farms likely will face the same ad campaigns now waged by special interest groups against dairy, chickens, layers, swine, and cattle farms.
The spotlight on aquaculture is likely to get brighter as business grows. Aquaculture is a burgeoning industry here in the Midwest. According to a recent Purdue study, sales from Indiana fish farms increased almost five-fold between 2006 and 2012. Indiana grain farmers are also watching fish farms with interest and promoting soybean meal as an appropriate substitute for fish meal in current fish feed rations. Consumers are buying more and more fish, too. Global fish consumption has nearly doubled in the last 40 years, outpacing population growth. These factors increase the likelihood of special interest groups paying more attention to aquaculture.
We can apply some of the lessons we've learned in working with livestock operations to fish farms, too. Be transparent in planning a fish farm, over-communicate with neighbors, and work with your local and state regulators to ensure you are properly licensed and permitted. Contact an attorney if you have questions regarding your aquaculture operation.