OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Can you actually run an aquaculture business and make money doing it? Well, the answer is yes. That’s what Fish 2.0 is all about.
There’s money to be made inside the big tanks at the Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center. Aquaculture is quickly becoming a booming business.
That’s why Fish 2.0 has come to the Coast, according to director Monica Jain.
“We want to help companies become more ready to present their ventures and opportunities to investors, and we want the two to meet one another and get to know each other, so they start to work together,” she said.
The conference is hosted by the Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center, and the lab will play a key role in any venture. That’s the word from Dr. Kelly Lucas with USM.
“We’ll be seeing what all we can do for them in terms of research and seeing what their bottlenecks may be, so that we can do the research that really benefits them,” Dr. Lucas explained.
And it’s not just fish, oysters are also on the menu. Mike Herman runs a company that tries to restore wild oyster beds.
“We’re hoping to be able to restore primary sites that can then seed secondary for farming later on. So, where most of the farmers are trying to farm off the bottom in floating baskets, we’re trying to get the original habitat back as well,” Herman explained.
Participants need fish and working capital as well. That’s why fish farm owner Nicole Kirchhoff is here.
“I learned that the bigger farms should focus on what we do best, which is a marine fish hatchery... multi-species to diverse out the risk... and some drug approvals that we’ve done. And we need to have funding for that type of expansion,” Nicole said.
The reality of the situation is this. Some 91% of the seafood consumed in America is imported from foreign countries. And that’s why future aquaculture production in this country can be absolutely huge, according to Lucas.
“We know that we have the ability to do aquaculture in a safe manner, so that people can have safe, local, sustainable seafood. So, increasing our domestic production of seafood is going to come from aquaculture,” she explained.
There are about 35 participants in the conference.
The highlight tomorrow will feature seafood company officials pitching their aquaculture ideas to investors, very similar to what you see on the hit ABC television series Shark Tank.