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Growth Potential by Adding Value, Says Professor

FLORIDA - The aquaculture industry has the potential for significant growth because of demand and its ability to innovate, predicted Gunnar Knapp, in his keynote speaker at the World Aquaculture Society's Aquaculture America 2008 conference and trade show in Orlando, Florida this week.

"Unlike wild fisheries, aquaculture has the potential for continuing demand-driven growth," said Knapp, a professor of economics at the University of Alaska–Anchorage.

Reporting from the event, Christine Blank, business writer says the clear message was that the aquaculture industry has developed products to meet consumer demand.

Similarities

He compared the innovation in the aquaculture industry to that of the poultry industry, which has resulted in continued sales growth of chicken. Beef consumption, meanwhile, has decreased over time.

"The historical experience of poultry may be a better indicator of the potential for aquaculture than the historical experience of beef. Just like the chicken industry, the aquaculture industry has been innovative in developing new products," he said.

Knapp flagged up the farmed-salmon industry as a prime example of consumer success.

The sector had embraced value added production and developed new product lines, marketed to new regions of the world and increased volume through better production techniques and management.

"One of the most remarkable achievements of the salmon-farming industry is that it has reduced costs but have been able to expand world demand. So, the world's consumers are buying vastly more salmon then ever before," Knapp said.

Wild Decline

He said that in time, wild fisheries would play a smaller role in world seafood supply, while aquaculture growth globally, would continue.

"The huge competitive advantages of aquaculture include: control over the scale of the production, predictability of production, timing, location of production and fish size. The fish characteristics can be produced to meet market needs," said Knapp said.

The competitiveness of wild fisheries is further hampered by self-inflicted problems, including excess capacity, inefficiency and in some cases, quality problems.

Ellen Hardy

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