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Livestock that swim gaining popularity as a business

by the Fish Site Editor
25 June 2007, at 1:00am

OHIO - Bob and Ann Hesterman's Fin Farm LLC in northwest Henry County is a rarity. The fish farm near Ridgeville Corners, about 45 miles from Toledo, is among the few in Ohio big enough to require workers outside of the owners' families.

Katy Benson nets koi at Fin Farm, one Ohio's few operations big enough to employ workers other than family members.

The fish farm near Ridgeville Corners, about 45 miles from Toledo, is among the few in Ohio big enough to require workers outside of the owners' families.

It provides a variety of species for stocking ponds, such as largemouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch, channel catfish, koi, walleye, crappies, and fathead minnows.

"As with any small business, it can take years to become profitable, so having adequate capital is important," said Laura Tiu, an aquaculture specialist with the Ohio State University Extension Service.

A koi being raised at Fin Farm.

Don Sayers, a Toledo Jeep worker who owns Swamp Heaven near Colton in Henry County, has a fish farm as a sideline, raising bullfrogs and crayfish.

"You could make a living at aquaculture if you wanted to, and you wanted to work a lot," he said.

The Hestermans and Mr. Sayers are part of Ohio's relatively small but growing aquaculture industry.

The industry sold $3.2 million worth of products in 2005, nearly double the 1998 figure, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 

Michigan's industry was $2.4 million in 2005, up from $2 million seven years earlier. Neither state ranked in the top 10 for sales in the $1.1 billion industry, or for number of farms. Ohio has 55 such farms, Michigan has 34. But some farms aren't counted, particularly if they are smaller.

Ohio's records show that the state has 215 licensed fish farms, and Michigan's show that it has 70. In this part of Ohio, most of the fish are sold to farmers and homeowners wanting to stock their ponds, but some are used for bait, and a smaller amount is sold to restaurants and grocers.

Dan Longnecker, a trout farmer outside Castalia, near Sandusky, believes the value of farmed fish and other aquaculture products in the state would be $10 million to $20 million if the many mom-and-pop operations were counted.

Most of the operations are sidelines for farmers or business hobbies for workers in other occupations.

Source: Toledoblade.com

the Fish Site Editor