Phil Mackey of Mt. Lassen Trout Farm Wins ‘Distinguished Lifetime Contributions to the Aquaculture Industry’ McCraren Award at Aquaculture America

February 21, 2024
Posted in News
February 21, 2024 USTFA

Phil Mackey of Mt. Lassen Trout Farm Wins ‘Distinguished Lifetime Contributions to the Aquaculture Industry’ McCraren Award at Aquaculture America

Courtesy of NAA:

Annually, the National Aquaculture Association (NAA) presents awards given in honor of our first Executive Director Joe McCraren. Joe is remembered for:

  • Simultaneously serving as Executive Director for the National Aquaculture Association and U.S. Trout Farmers Association.
  • His exemplary career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Serving as the Secretary of the Joint Subcommittee of Aquaculture
  • Co-authorship of the “Fish Culture Bible,”
  • Being the “Father of a United Aquaculture Industry.”

When individuals are recognized with a Joseph P. McCraren Award, they are being recognized as having attained a standard of excellence and accomplishment established by Joe McCraren.

Phil Mackey has been a trout farmer, ambassador, advocate, and pioneer in the aquaculture industry for over 52 years. He is the principal owner and CEO of Mt. Lassen Trout Farm where he has been employed for the entirety of his career. Phil has many amazing contributions to the world of aquaculture but beyond that is the personal relationships he has formed; the folks he has helped along the way and fellowship he embodies is why he is so deserving of this prestigious award.

Phil has served as the president of the U.S. Trout Farmers Association (USTFA) twice and was the youngest ever elected to the position. He was instrumental in writing many of the initial position statements for the USTFA prior to the formation of the NAA. He chaired many technical sessions and traveled on behalf of the USTFA to industry meetings with USDA, APHIS and many other agencies wanting to regulate the aquaculture industry.

Phil was directly involved in the formation of the NAA and served on the initial Board of Directors. He has also served on the board for the California Aquaculture Association and continues to serve on the CA Aquaculture Disease Committee where he was the chairman for over 10 years. He is also currently serving on the board for the CA Aquaculture Development Committee and has provided written and oral testimony as an aquaculture advocate for NPDES permits and similarly related issues in California.

Phil has lobbied for the USTFA in Washington D.C. (at times alongside Joe McCraren) both before and after the formation of the NAA. He has provided oral and written testimony to Congress twice on behalf of Regional Aquaculture Centers and the U.S. aquaculture farming community. Having spent numerous meetings with USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection officials, he was instrumental in conceptualizing and bringing to fruition the industry’s current certification program for salmonids based on models used for other forms of livestock.

Phil was the keynote speaker at the British Trout Association on behalf of the US trout farming industry. He also served as the salmonid representative for the USDA for an international trip promoting US aquaculture exports.

Under the leadership of Phil, Mt. Lassen Trout Farm was the first company in the world to produce rainbow trout eggs on a year-round basis. At one time the farm produced in excess of 100 million trout eggs annually with markets in the U.S. and 27 different countries and provinces. Phil’s claim to fame in the industry is that he has made more mistakes in photo-period control than anyone else in the world. He also helped pioneer the commercial application of all female triploid trout for recreational fish stocking. He has extensive experience in broodstock development and has successfully overseen the development of the farm’s own strains of rainbow trout. Mt. Lassen Trout Farm is the largest supplier of trout for the recreational fishing industry in California and possibly the United States. Phil and the farm have been instrumental in developing urban fishing programs throughout the state.

In addition, he designed and helped construct an “introduction to fishing” and kids catch-out pond in the LA area that has served tens of thousands of first time fishmen over the years. The farm is currently involved in a joint venture with The Fishery, the largest producer of white sturgeon in the U.S., with the goal of producing the highest grade of domestic caviar possible. The farm has recently been involved in rearing and releasing the winter-run Chinook Salmon, an endangered species. This has been a collaborative effort with multiple federal and state agencies which has been considered a milestone for private aquaculture.

Phil also designed, built and ran a 104-acre catfish farm in CA. He has been directly involved in the design and construction of 16 cold and warm water fish farms while consulting on many more. Other companies he has been involved with:

  • Sierra Fish Products: Founder and owner. Designed and manufactured equipment for the fish farming industry, including a trout egg shipping box that allowed Mt. Lassen Trout Farm to ship trout eggs internationally over longer periods of time.
  • Arrowhead Fisheries: Founder, General Manager and lead scientist in the initial spawning and rearing of white sturgeon and striped bass. (This company was later sold to Ken Beer at The Fishery.)
  • Maine Pride Salmon: Founder and broodstock coordinator that held the second ever permit to raise Atlantic Salmon in the Bay of Fundy.
  • Mountain Fisheries: Founder and General Manager. One of the largest recreational fishing companies operating in the greater Bay Area.
  • Crave Bait: Founded and developed a trout fishing bait company that was distributed nationally and internationally. That company was sold to Eagle Claw Company in its third year. Phil then served as Director of R&D for Eagle Claw fishing baits for six years.

He has commercially produced the following species: rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout, Atlantic salmon, Coho salmon, Chinook salmon, white sturgeon, black bass, stiped bass and channel catfish.

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