The American diet is hungry for farm-raised fish and that means growth for Wisconsin's aquaculture industry and the state's 2,400 fish farms.
A report released by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization stated that, worldwide, more fish for human consumption is being produced by aquaculture than is being wild-caught, and that the wild harvest is unlikely to ever increase.
That's why at the upcoming 18th Annual Wisconsin Aquaculture Conference, "Partnerships for the Future of Aquaculture", fish farmers and aquaculture enthusiasts will come together to discover sustainable ways to grow fresh fish to feed a population projected to be 9 billion by 2050.
This year's conference at Country Springs Hotel Conference Center and Water Park will be held March 1-2 in Pewaukee.
The conference offers networking opportunities and educational sessions for those involved in regional aquaculture. It attracts top national experts to speak on topics ranging from advances in fish feed to practical farm innovations.
The event features a trade show, retail product showcase for producers to unveil their value-added creations and the Taste of Wisconsin Aquaculture Cooking Demonstration featuring locally-grown fish and tastes.
Aquaculture, or fish farming, is an important part of the state's agriculture industry contributing to local economies and providing locally fresh fish. Wisconsin ranks first in the Midwest for aquaculture and has a $21 million economic impact to the state.
Additionally, the conference connects university and private business to spur innovative partnerships. One of the most recent public/private partnerships came together by UW-Stevens Point and a Wisconsin-based global leader in aquaponics.
Together the two taught students from across the country about new ways to grow fresh food - fish and plants - in one integrated, soilless system, making Wisconsin home to the first of its kind Aquaponics course.
The conference will be opened by UW-Extension Chancellor Ray Cross talking on Extension Partnerships, followed by more than a dozen educational sessions and panel discussions during the two-day event.
Timely topics for sessions range from preparing for the future, fish feeds, aquaponics and research updates. During sessions, UW-Stevens Point student research projects will offer a glimpse into the future of aquaculture while fish farmers will share information about how they modified or built components for their farms.
Other highlights include the 6th Annual Poster Contest for the Wisconsin High School Aquaculture Program with winners being announced Friday afternoon. Rochelle Ripp, 65th Alice in Dairyland, will close the conference with a talk during Saturday's lunch.
At the end of the conference, a tour of Wisconsin's largest trout farm, Rushing Waters Fisheries in Palmyra, will offer a first-hand look at raising all natural local farm-raised Rainbow Trout.
The conference is sponsored by Wisconsin Aquaculture Association, Inc., University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point/Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility, University of Wisconsin-Extension, and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Registration fees for the event are $100 for Wisconsin Aquaculture Association members and $130 for non-members prior to Feb. 24. After that date, a $25 late fee will be added.
The registration fee for nonmembers includes a complimentary one-year membership to Wisconsin Aquaculture Association (WAA).
To register online, visit the website at www.WisconsinAquaculture.com or contact WAA Secretary Cindy Johnson at 715-248-3657 for more information.
The Wisconsin Aquaculture Association (WAA) is the voice of aquaculture in the Badger state. An industry led and producer centered organization dedicated to promoting, educating and advocating for economic vitality and environmental sustainability while aiding the expansion of aquaculture in Wisconsin.
WAA is a member of the National Aquaculture Association, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau and the Wisconsin Agriculture Tourism Association and works closely with the University of Wisconsin-Extension Aquaculture Specialists.