Walleye Aquaculture Working Group
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) is working to promote locally grown aquaculture through a regional aquaculture extension program, funded in part with a grant from the USDA North Central Regional Aquaculture Center (NCRAC). These efforts focus on fish species that are currently produced in Illinois and Indiana, including tilapia, barramundi, and shrimp, all of which are non-native and don’t have a strong association with the Midwest. Research and anecdotal evidence suggest that farmed fish with a stronger local identity may be more successful in the marketplace because it is more familiar to Midwesterners as a local, native fish as opposed to the exotic species that are currently the focus of regional aquaculture (Quagrainie et al., 2008). Walleye is one such fish—it has a strong association with the Midwest, is available in restaurants as a commercially caught species, and may be suitable for aquaculture. However, there is currently minimal walleye aquaculture in Illinois or Indiana.
The business and real-world production barriers to developing walleye aquaculture are not fully understood, but they include technical barriers to raising the fish in an economically sustainable manner, challenges inherent in developing new markets, policy barriers, and more. Simply put, there is reason to believe that walleye aquaculture could be a boon in the area, but there is a lot of background work that needs to be done to see if it is feasible.
To help with this background work, IISG has assembled a multidisciplinary Walleye Aquaculture Working Group (WAWG) to explore the potential of walleye aquaculture in Illinois and Indiana. The WAWG consists of IISG aquaculture staff, aquaculture production professionals, and policy and market researchers who bring expertise to bear on developing walleye aquaculture in the bi-state area. By the end of the project, the WAWG will have identified barriers to walleye aquaculture, begun initial work on methods to address those barriers, synthesized the findings and remaining issues, and created a plan of action for how to fund and perform future work to continue to develop walleye aquaculture in Illinois and Indiana.
For more information on walleye marketing and production barriers, read our WAWG workshop summary.
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