Saturday, June 27, 2009


Friday, June 26, 2009 11:26 PM CDT

(Full article here)

An aquaculture/fisheries doctoral program proposed by the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff gained the respect of professionals charged with critically reviewing the program.

“They will be an incredibly competitive program,” said Bobby McGhee, dean of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Graduate School. “They’ll be able to select from the best.

“If they gave Nobel Prizes for aquaculture, there would be four or five on this campus. The faculty is stellar when stacked against any school in the nation.”

McGhee has reviewed more than 100 proposed Ph.D. programs and he has been involved in launching six doctoral programs. He said UAPB’s proposed program is the most exciting one he has known.

The aquaculture department has been working for about 10 years to build a Ph.D. faculty and upgrade facilities in preparation for the program.

“This will not be a token partnership,” McGhee said. “We are fully on board.”

He said UAMS would give fisheries students opportunities to work in facilities such as a microbiology laboratory to learn from the expertise of a wider variety of Ph.D.s in practice.


(Full article here)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

National Catfish Day

Did you know that President Reagan issued a Presidential Proclamation in 1987 that issued today June 25th as National Catfish Day? Today, we celebrate catfish and its growing popularity in America. This delectable fish can be prepared in numerous ways, so don't go through the day without at least trying a sample!

U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish is a lean fish and an excellent source of protein. It is low in saturated (bad) fat and is a moderate source of polyunsaturated (good) fat and omega-3 fatty acids.

Ninety-four percent of all U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish is raised in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, in freshwater ponds filled with clean and clear well water. The National Audubon Society, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Environmental Defense all recommend U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish as a safe environmental choice.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Catfish Processing Down 10 Percent from Last Year

Farm-raised catfish processed during May 2009 totaled 39.9 million pounds round weight, down 10 percent from May 2008. The average price paid to producers was 76.2 cents per pound for May 2009, down 0.1 cent from last month and 1.4 cents below a year ago.

Net pounds of processed fish sold during May 2009 totaled 18.8 million pounds, down 11 percent from the comparable month in 2008. The total end of the month inventory decreased 1 percent from last month and was down 11 percent from a year ago. Sales of fresh fish, at 7.17 million pounds, were down 6 percent from May 2008 and represented 38 percent of total sales. Frozen fish sales, at 11.7 million pounds, were down 14 percent from a year ago and accounted for the remaining 62 percent of
total fish sales. Sales of whole fish represented 17 percent of the total fish sold, fillets accounted for 62 percent, and the remaining 21 percent were mostly steaks, nuggets, and value added products.

The May 2009 average price received by processors for total fresh fish was $2.51 per pound, up 12 cents from last year. Prices for fresh whole fish were $1.70 per pound, up 10 cents from May 2008. Prices for fresh fillets were up 13 cents from a year ago at $3.23 per pound. Total frozen fish averaged $2.57 per pound, up 12 cents from May 2008. Prices for frozen whole dressed fish were up 7 cents at $2.23 and frozen fillets at $2.98 per pound were up 10 cents from a year ago.

Freshwater imports for consumption of Ictalurus spp., Pangasius spp., and other catfish of the order Siluriformes for April 2009 totaled 8.55 million pounds, down 19 percent from the amount imported in April 2008. Imports were from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand, and Vietnam. The Ictalurus spp. imports totaled 1.36 million pounds, which were from China, Mexico, and Thailand.

Fresh boneless catfish fillet exports for April 2009 totaled 47.5 thousand pounds, with all going to Canada. Exports of frozen, boneless catfish fillets reported for April 2009 totaled 12.8 thousand pounds going to Kuwait and the Netherlands.

Import and export data are compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Stimulus Money Coming to Arkansas Fish Farmers

KATV 7 News
posted 06/15/09 9:52 pm

Little Rock, AR - Stimulus money is on the way to Arkansas fish farmers. Fifty million dollars was just approved nationally for aquaculture farmers. Arkansas will see about 7 million of that and some farmers say it will keep their business afloat.
Thousands of Arkansas's acres are home to goldfish, catfish, and hybrid striped bass breeders. After more than a year of their feed costs spiking, they see any help as relief. Swimming upstream is how some local fish farmers felt in Keo when their feed costs ballooned in 2007. Prices increased from $800 per ton to $1,200.

(Mike Freeze, Co-Owner Keo Fish Farm) “Your aquaculture farmers are a big part of the Arkansas agriculture.”

With $7 million from the stimulus package being split among all the fish farmers, Mike Freeze isn’t sure how much he'll see, but he's says it will be put to use.

(Freeze) “For every dollar that a fish farmer spends it has 7 times that impact on the local economy.”

The plans for his portion will go toward feed to keep from drowning in the current economy.

(Freeze) “I honestly feel like I'm getting back some of my tax dollars that I pay.”

He says he plans to get his paper work in by Monday and the government will be cutting checks for the farmers next week.

Aquaculture industry gets USD 50 mln for fish feed

Tuesday, June 16, 2009, 01:40 (GMT + 9)

By Natalia Real
Click here for the original article.

A federal stimulus package going to the struggling aquaculture industry will include USD 50 million to be used on fish feed. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will distribute it in the form of grants through state agriculture departments based on amounts of feed utilised in 2007.

Feed increased in cost by over 50 per cent last year, aggravating the difficulties suffered by the national aquaculture industry caused by foreign competition. Supporters believe the stimulus package will be able to sustain fish farms and preserve jobs in the areas most affected by the economic recession and other factors, reports The Associated Press.

It was producers in Arkansas and the South who pressed the most for the package through US Senator Blanche Lincoln, D-Arkansas, who is particularly worried about the catfish industry. According to the USDA, in 2007 the aquaculture industry was worth USD 1.4 billion, one-third due to catfish sales from Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas.

Mike Freeze, vice president of the Pine Bluff, Arkansas-based National Aquaculture Association said that a considerable amount of fish farmers are located in poor regions and have been hit with both higher feed prices and higher electricity costs in addition to foreign competition.

The fish feed purchased with the stimulus package could stretch from the South through the Pacific coast, feeding everything form shellfish to catfish, tilapia and trout.

Fish feed for commercial fish includes corn, wheat, soybeans and fishmeal as the main ingredients. It is the increases in prices of corn in particular that drove the prices of fish feed to rise.

It is processors, who have not increased pay, who hold the power to set prices. While farmers producing baitfish have been able to up their prices in accord with those of fish feed, farmers raising fish for human consumption are stuck.

"Our catfish farmers have been taking it on the chin the last couple of years," said Freeze.

Meanwhile, non-fish farmers in similar situations want to know why they are not receiving any financial aid.

"I don't begrudge the aquaculture because someone was able to get aquaculture funding," said Missouri Agriculture Director Jon Hagler.

"I think that's fantastic, and we're going to take advantage of it because if we don't we lose it. But in terms of the other industries, I just wish there was more available for them."

International trade panel upholds order against certain Vietnamese fish

By Associated Press
4:45 PM CDT, June 15, 2009

WASHINGTON, Ala. (AP) — The U.S. International Trade Commission has upheld an order against dumping of certain frozen fish fillets from Vietnam, a move described by an Alabama congressman as a victory for catfish farmers.

U.S. Rep. Artur Davis of Birmingham said it is important that farmers have an opportunity to compete with foreign producers on a level playing field.

The commission voted unanimously Monday to continue the trade protections. In May, Davis led a bipartisan coalition in support of the antidupming rules.

Mississippi and Alabama are the country's top catfish producers.

Mississippi catfish farmers say Vietnam is sinking their business

Los Angeles Times, June 15, 2009
By Richard Fausset and Richard Simon

The millions of pounds of Vietnamese fish imported to the U.S. each year are not classified as 'catfish' and may not be subject to the same inspection regulations that will soon apply to the American

Reporting from Belzoni, Miss., and Washington -- In Vietnam there's a kind of fish that's white-fleshed and whiskered and otherwise pretty darn catfish-like. But in the eyes of the U.S. government, the creatures aren't catfish.

Now fish farmers in the American South fear this government classification will allow the Vietnamese fish to slither around inspection regulations that will soon apply to American catfish.

Click here for the full story

USDA approved Arkansas work plan for the Aquaculture Grant Program Recovery Act

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) approved Arkansas work plan for the Aquaculture Grant Program Recovery Act. FSA said that Arkansas plan is a great example of what FSA is looking for in a work plan for a State that chooses to implement the program via cash to producers. Click here to download the complete work plan, which contain all the information, guidelines, and application forms. REMEMBER THE DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS IS June 22,2009. Since the Arkansas plan was the first to be approved, fish farmers may be able to receive their stimulus check by the end of June.

P.S. If you intend to apply for more than one entity and get more than the $100,000 limit then you should check with your local FSA office and get approval.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

May 2009 Arkansas Farm Bureau Update video on Aquaculture Challenges

The May 2009 edition of the Arkansas Farm Bureau Update Video addresses the difficulties that Arkansas fish farmers are facing with unprofitable feed costs and competition from imports.

This video followed a previous one that was produced in October 2008 on "Foreign competition and higher feed costs are making it difficult for Arkansas catfish farmers to stay in business".

Monday, June 8, 2009

American Recovery & Reinvestment Act Stimulus Funds

This letter is to announce the release of funds by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to assist aquaculture producers for losses associated with high feed input costs during the 2008 calendar year. The Arkansas Agriculture Department expects to receive $7,815,885.00 and is working diligently to release these funds as expeditiously as possible.

Meetings are being scheduled to explain the guidelines of the program and to assist the farmers in the application process. It is imperative that all applications are received by the Arkansas Agriculture Department by Monday, June 22, 2009. Therefore, we recommend that you take the time to attend one of the three meetings. If you absolutely can not attend any of the scheduled meetings, we will make the application and guidelines available to the general public, as soon as possible, on the Arkansas Agriculture Department, Aquaculture Division website. This site can be accessed at The link to the application and guidelines can be accessed on the home page through the link entitled 2008 AGP.

In an effort to expedite the application process, below is a list of documentation that will be required to be eligible for the 2008 Aquaculture Grant Program (AGP).

1. W-9
2. 2008 Feed Tonnage Report
3. Certification letter from the feed mill certifying tons purchased in 2008 and the average feed price paid by the aquaculture producer in the 2008 calendar year.
4. Producers that are NOT individuals will be required to establish a DUNS number or update an existing DUNS number. This can be done at
5. Producers that are NOT individuals are also required to register with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) database or update and existing registration with CCR

The meeting schedule is as follows:

Monday, June 15, 2009 – 10:00 a.m.
Lonoke Agriculture Center
2100 Highway 70 East
Lonoke, AR 72086

Tuesday, June 16, 2008 – 9:30 a.m.
Guachoya Cultural Arts Center
UAPB Lake Village Diagnostic Lab
1652 C Highway 62/85 South
Lake Village, AR

Thursday, June 18, 2009 – 10:30 a.m.
Craighead County Extension Building
611 East Washington Ave., Suite. A
Jonesboro, AR 72401

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Renovated UAPB Fish Diagnostic Laboratory Opens in Lake Village

Cutting the ribbon for the relocated and newly-renovated UAPB Fish Disease Diagnostic Lab in Lake Village are left to right: UAPB Aquaculture Specialist; Larry Dorman, state Director of Aquaculture Ted McNulty; Rep. Robert Moore, District 12; Sen. Jimmy Jeffress, District 24; UAPB Chancellor Dr. Lawrence A. Davis, Jr.; Rep. Gregg Reep, District 8; Jerry Williamson, Lake Village City Council member and fish farmer; Wayne Branton, president of Catfish Farmers of Arkansas and fish farmer; Floy Bostick, Chicot County Quorum Court; Chicot County Judge Mack Ball, Jr. and Gene Higginbotham, aide to U.S. Rep. Mike Ross

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) Fish Disease Diagnostic Lab in Lake Village is a valuable resource for area fish farmers, UAPB Chancellor Dr. Lawrence A. Davis, Jr. said. Dr. Davis recently joined state and local officials in ceremoniously cutting a ribbon to open the lab in a newly renovated building near its former location. The new lab, which is part of UAPB's Aquaculture/Fisheries Center, is the result of collaboration with the city of Lake Village, the state and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The city provided the facility, the state and USDA provided funds to remodel the space and UAPB is providing skilled fish health experts, utility costs, supplies and equipment. Located at 1652C Highway 65 in Lake Village, the new lab serves fish producers and recreational pond owners by providing fish disease diagnosis, fish health inspections, water testing and more.

Read full articles in:

Pine Bluff Commercial - Pine Bluff, AR, Friday, May 22, 2009

FOX 16, Friday, May 22, 2009, Friday, May 22, 2009

Ashley County Ledger - Hamburg, AR, Tuesday, June 02, 2009

2008 U.S. Catfish Database by Dr. Terry Hanson and David Sites

The 2008 U.S. Catfish Database by Dr. Terry Hanson and David Sites is a collection of data concerning the U.S. farm-raised catfish industry. Information in this database came from many sources. However, the bulk of information came from the USDA NASS and ERS agencies. This publication represents a long history of data on catfish production, processing, and feed price information in one comprehensive document.

The 2008 Catfish Database can be found on-line at:

OR at:

Thanks to Terry Hanson of Auburn University for sharing this information.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Update on the Aquaculture Feed Stimulus (Recovery Act – 2008 Aquaculture Grant Program)

The Recovery Act authorizes $50 million of Commodity Credit Corporation funds for grants to states that agree to provide assistance to eligible aquaculture producers for losses associated with high feed input costs during the 2008 calendar year.

We still do not know how long it will take for the money to get to fish producers. The latest time line is as follows:

1. A press release from USDA on Tues.June 2.
2.Agreements will be mailed to State Department of Agriculture on June 2
3.Agreements must be signed and returned to USDA.
4.States must submit applications,guidelines and work plan to USDA for approval.
5.After approval USDA will sent the money to the states.
6.The State must advertise the grant program and sign up all eligible aquaculture producers in the state.
7.Depending on how the program is designed,the state will have to notify the producers and the feed mills how much in feed credits the producers will receive or send a check to the producer for that amount.

Evaluation of a Barrier Confinement System for Channel Catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, Production

from Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, Volume 40 Issue 3, Pages 402 - 409
by Neil J Pugliese, David Heikes, Carole R Engle

An in-pond confinement system to separate channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, by size within a single pond provides an opportunity for improved growth of understocked fish in ponds with larger market-sized fish. A barrier of polyvinyl chloride[ndash]coated galvanized wire mesh was constructed in five 0.10-ha earthen ponds to partition the pond into one-third and two-third sections, while five other 0.10-ha ponds were left as traditional open ponds for a control. To evaluate catfish performance in this confinement system, fingerlings (25 g) were stocked at 14,820/ha into the smaller one-third section of the barrier and carryover fish (408 g) at 2580 kg/ha into the larger two-third section of the barrier. The control ponds were stocked with the same sizes and numbers of fish in a traditional earthen pond without a barrier. Yield, survival, feed conversion ratio (FCR), growth, and economics were compared between treatments. Fingerling yields were greater in the barrier system that allowed fingerlings to be separated physically from larger carryover fish. There were no differences in yield of carryover fish, survival, FCR, or growth between the control and the barrier ponds. Partial budget analysis revealed a positive net change of $367/ha or $38,125 for a 104-ha catfish farm (at a market price of $1.54/kg of additional stockers produced). The value of the greater weight of understocked fish produced in the barrier system was greater than the annualized cost of installing the barrier, for farmers raising fish in multiple batch. Thus, on an experimental basis, the confinement system was economically profitable; however, trials on commercial farms are needed to evaluate performance on a larger scale.