The Indiana Soybean Alliance has announced the formation of the Soy Aquaculture Alliance (SAA), a new national aquaculture organization focused on expanding the U.S. aquaculture industry through increased use of soybeans in fish diets.
With consumption of seafood expected to double, if not triple, in the next decade, soy-based feeds are an alternative to the diminishing supply of fish meal currently being used as a protein source in fish diets. The U.S. soybean industry has already been at the forefront of developing new aquaculture feed sources, and SAA is focused on meeting the demand.
“A goal of soybean farmers is to grow the U.S. aquaculture industry and SAA can help the fish farmers find new feed using soybeans as part of their production system,” said Jane Ade Stevens, ISA chief executive officer. “SAA will work to fund programs and research that increases the utilization of U.S. soybeans in the diets of fish grown within our borders.”
Several state soybean checkoff organizations, as well as the United Soybean Board (USB), have funded aquaculture programs in the past and the formation of SAA allows the soybean industry to better coordinate its efforts in the area of domestic aquaculture. The alliance will ensure that U.S. soybean checkoff investments in the domestic aquaculture industry will maximize long-term return on investment for soybean farmers.
Dr. Steve Hart has been named executive director of the new organization. Prior to leading SAA, Hart was the director of aquaculture at Indiana Soybean Alliance since 2007. He has worked in the aquatic science/aquaculture field since 1996. Before joining ISA, he was the Soy-in-Aquaculture Project Coordinator at Purdue University.
“The time is now for U.S. domestic aquaculture production,” said Hart, who served as the director of ISA’s aquaculture initiative since 2007. “The U.S. is the third largest consumer of seafood in the world behind China and Japan; however, we import 85 percent of our seafood. We feel that the time is right for the Soy Aquaculture Alliance to work together with the U.S. seafood industry to see what can be done to help grow U.S. domestic aquaculture production.”
Founding SAA members include nine state soybean checkoff organizations including Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, Illinois Soybean Association, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Iowa Soybean Association, Ohio Soybean Council, South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Kentucky Soybean Board, Maryland Soybean Board and Delaware Soybean Board.
USB has been an active partner in the formation of SAA, committing significant funds to help guide the focus areas of this new aquaculture alliance. Strategic planning meetings took place earlier this year which yielded a broad list of goals that encompass topics from education to research with one of the key functions being to coordinate aquaculture investments at a state level.
“The aquaculture industry is so young, it is still developing,” said Hart. “With some exceptions, the standard model for much of the production throughout the world has been smaller farms that haven’t allowed for efficiencies of scale. We believe the U.S. soybean industry can be a valuable resource to the aquaculture industry by providing sustainable, plant-based feeds to allow for continued growth, especially here in the U.S.”
The first SAA board of directors meeting is planned for December 8-9 in St. Louis, Mo. where SAA officers will be elected.