During the Plenary Session of Aquaculture 2022, Jim Parsons, President of the National Aquaculture Association, presented the Joseph P. McCraren Awards for Distinguished Lifetime Contributions to the Aquaculture Industry to Ms. Rebeca “Becky” Cooper of Cline Trout Farm, Boulder Colorado.
Becky became a fish farmer and partner with Ken Cline in the late 1970s. She participated in farmer and agency meetings and served on various state, federal and farmer committees and working groups that would yield a positive impact. Her service included chair of the National Aquaculture Industry Forum (1993-94), US Trout Farmer Association Board of Directors, USTFA President (1992-93), Western Regional Aquaculture Center (WRAC) Industry Advisory Board (2001-2011), WRAC Strategic Planning Committee, co-recipient of the USTFA 2004 Clark and Mimi White Distinguished Service Award, and editor of the Colorado Aquaculture Association’s highly valued The Fishline newsletter for decades.
Sometimes we forget our history. Not so today. The National Aquaculture Industry Forum was an effort initiated by Joe McCraren, Executive Director for the NAA, soon after the NAA was incorporated to bring together U.S. aquaculture association representatives and federal agencies in an apolitical environment to share information and identify issues.
Ms. Cooper was nominated as the first chair by Catfish Farmers of America. The Forum met four times a year for two or three years. Each meeting featured a presentation by an aquaculture sector describing species, production practices and markets. The Forum was highly supported by federal agencies and Congress to minimize competing and different voices from aquaculture community. Productive outcomes were informed agencies and an appreciation amongst the farming community that as a diverse agricultural segment they could work together to achieve common goals.
Becky also played a key role in educating WRAC’s committees, Board, and stakeholders on the economic importance of commercially producing various salmonid species for stocking purposes. Her efforts are reflected in two WRAC-funded studies on the culture of native cutthroat trout and an impactful study estimating the economic contribution of fish produced for stocking in the western region.
Becky is an alumnus of the Colorado Agriculture Leadership Program (1988-90). Her participation in the Leadership Program established relationships with state agriculture and legislative leaders that facilitated the development and passage of the Colorado Aquaculture Bill. This established aquaculture as agriculture and aquaculture products as livestock in Colorado. It also established a statutory role for the aquaculture industry in development of fish disease regulations.
Ms. Cooper also recognized aquaculture was often overlooked in state agriculture and water programs and legislation. She became involved with Colorado Farm Bureau to help lobby for aquaculture. She represented aquaculture on state agriculture advisory committees and on the Colorado Agriculture Water Alliance.
Please join the NAA and USTFA in recognizing Becky for her many contributions and accomplishments on behalf of Colorado aquaculture, aquaculture in the western region, trout farmers nationwide and U.S. aquaculture.