Aquaculture, or the production of fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants in a controlled environment, is the fastest growing segment of agriculture in America.
As consumer demand has grown, so has the aquaculture industry; farm-raised fish and shellfish now account for over 40% of all the fish and shellfish eaten around the world.
The vast majority of U.S. trout grown commercially for food are grown in Idaho, which accounts for over 75% of the production. It’s no secret that Idaho’s success is linked to a vast system of aquifers and springs. However, water of high purity and cold temperatures are found elsewhere in our country, giving rise to an industry that is truly national in scope. Other leading states include Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Washington, and California. Follow this link to the 2008 USDA Trout Production Report for more information.
In 2008, over 53 million pounds of trout, mostly rainbow trout, were grown in the U.S., primarily for the food fish market. Substantial numbers are also grown for recreational use.
Trout for the food fish market are sold fresh or frozen to restaurants, supermarkets and institutions. The process/packaging phase of the industry is highly sophisticated. Trout are marketed as dressed or boned and boneless fillets. They may be breaded or stuffed. Trout also available canned, like tuna or salmon, as pate or smoked product. It is not unusual for trout to be harvested, processed, chilled and packaged for shipment in less than 90 minutes!
Food quality, particularly that of seafood, has become a major consumer issue of the 90’s. To ensure the continuing safety and quality of American farmed trout, the US Trout Farmers Association has developed a producer’s quality assurance program for the entire trout industry.
The trout producers quality assurance program focuses on the scientific monitoring of farming and processing to insure that consumers receive the most safe and wholesome products possible. The program will emphasize good management practices and a systematic analysis of current production techniques. This quality assurance program is among the first of those developed by the U.S. aquaculture industry.
Recreational Trout Fishing
While trout are good to eat, they also provide family fun. Many farm-raised trout are supplied to recreational areas or clubs for the purpose that helped make trout famous – sport fishing. Throughout the country there are “fish out” or “fee-fishing” lakes where catches are “guaranteed.” Generally, a license to fish at these facilities isn’t necessary. Complete resorts, offering a motel or campground, restaurant, swimming pool, tennis courts or other amenities are also often available. Most important, the fish are the same farm-raised trout available in restaurants and supermarkets.
So, now is a good time to enjoy all the good things about trout…the fun of catching them, quick and easy preparation, a variety of ways to cook them, high protein content, low in calories, and – most importantly – great taste!!