Raising Fish Today to Build a Better Tomorrow is the theme of the 2014 Wisconsin Aquaculture Conference. Registration is now open for the 19th annual event which will be held March 7 and 8 at Fox Hills Resort in Mishicot.
"As consumer interest in locally sourced fish continues to rise, the Wisconsin aquaculture industry will need to innovate to grow and meet demand," says Mike Kelm, president of the Wisconsin Aquaculture Association and owner of Quiet Springs Fish Farm in Arpin. "This conference will allow fish farmers and others interested in aquaculture to learn about the latest on-farm innovations and advancements to produce quality Wisconsin grown fish in a sustainable environment."
The two-day conference offers networking opportunities and educational sessions for those interested in Midwest aquaculture. The Wisconsin Aquaculture Conference attracts the top experts in the region and nation to speak on topics ranging from fish feed and aqua tourism to environmentally sustainable aquaculture and aquaponics. This year's conference will include a discussion on a potential U.S. Aquaculture Checkoff Program.
The event features a trade show with over 20 vendors, Retail Product Showcase for producers to unveil their value-added creations and the Taste of Wisconsin Aquaculture Cooking Demonstration featuring recipes using locally grown fish.
Aquaculture, or fish farming, is an important part of the state's agriculture industry contributing to local economies. Wisconsin ranks 1st in the Midwest for aquaculture and bolsters a $21 million economic impact to the state. Wisconsin is home to more than 2,400 fish farms that range from producing food fish, to pond and lake stocking, and bait for recreational fishing, and is a global leader in aquaponics.
The event will include more than a dozen educational sessions including a look at the emerging use of freshwater algae that can substitute for fish meal in fish feed and provide treatment of fish rearing wastewater.
Kentucky Department of Agriculture Aquaculture Coordinator Angela Caporelli will share how Kentucky is using a Mobile Processing Unit allowing small farmers to process and provide a fresh product to market. During sessions, aquaculture experts will highlight emerging opportunities such as urban organics aquaponics while fish farmers will share information about how they modified or built components for their farms
Other highlights include the 7th Annual Poster Contest for the Wisconsin High School Aquaculture Program with winners being announced Friday afternoon by 66th Alice in Dairyland Kristin Olson. At the end of the conference, a tour of Northside Enterprises and Branch River Trout Hatchery will offer a firsthand look at local fish farms.
University of Wisconsin Extension Aquaculture Specialists will be available throughout the conference to answer any questions attendees will have on startup and beginning aquaculture and pond management.
The conference is sponsored by Wisconsin Aquaculture Association, Inc., University of Wisconsin—Extension, University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point/Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility, and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The conference is also supported by the many vendors participating in the event.
To register online, visit the website at www.WisconsinAquaculture.com or contact WAA Secretary Cindy Johnson at 715.248.3657 for more information.