Discover the farm-raised fish of Florida’s aquaculture industry.

Florida’s aquaculture industry spans a wide array of operations, from raising fish and animals for the pet industry to raising and harvesting an array of fish and seafood for consumption. Farm-raised fish are a large part of Florida’s aquaculture industry. We already covered the alligator industry portion of Florida’s aquaculture in an earlier blog; explore the details of the farm-raised fish sector below.

Aquaculture and Farm-Raised Fish by the Numbers

According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), in 2012, the sale of farm-raised fish for food and bait totaled $4.6 million. The largest sector attributed to a single fish is the tilapia sector, which accounted for $1.2 million. Catfish was the next largest sector, contributing $390,000. The remaining $3 million was divided among other farm-raised fish like bass, sturgeon, bream, carp, bocia, crappie, pompano, redfish, sunfish, and trout.

Regulating Aquaculture

There are a wide variety of aquafarming operations, many with rules and regulations they must follow. Some raise fish outdoors, and others are required to restrict their farm-raised fish to indoor facilities. Most regulations are aimed at keeping farm-raised fish from escaping captivity. Other regulations are meant to protect people, such as the food permit that is required if an aquafarming operation is processing or selling products for human consumption.

Many aquaculture fish farming operations farm species of fish that are restricted in Florida because they are non-native species. Restricted species pose a threat as an invasive species if they were to ever get into natural waterways. Commercial aquaculture operations are required to gain authorization to possess or raise the following fish species:

  • Tilapia. Four different tilapia and their hybrids are considered restricted species in various parts of Florida on a commercial level, and all other kinds of tilapia are prohibited in The Sunshine State. Tilapia are not available for personal use.
  • Nile Perches or Lates. These fish, including barramundi, require extensive authorization, such as an indoor facility, plans, hurricane-rated buildings, and more.
  • Largemouth Bass. Northern largemouth bass, even when crossed with Florida largemouth bass, is a restricted species in most areas of Florida.

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