Will aquaculture sink or swim in Iowa?  

That was the question that a record crowd of more than 250 people hoped to get answered at the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) Aquaculture Con­ference in Ames last week.

They heard from a range of industry experts, who said the opportunities for growing Iowa’s aquaculture industry are perhaps matched only by the challenges preventing seafood from joining beef, pork and poultry as a leading protein sources produced by the state’s farmers.

“It’s exciting times, (but) to make a living in this business, obviously we have to pay attention to the economics,” said Carole Engel, a consultant with Engle-Stone Aquatic$ of Virginia. “Successful businesses are complex and require many good decisions. It’s a bit more like a dairy operation than a row-crop operation.”

Market opportunity

The need for more seafood production is evident, said Joe Morris, Iowa State University ecology professor. At a time when demand for seafood is rising, most wild-caught sources of seafood are...