Aquaculture is part of Idaho’s agricultural economy based on natural resources. Idaho is in the top ten states for aquaculture and value.
The Thousand Springs Reach of the Mid-Snake River has high-quality spring water with plenty of oxygen and the perfect temperature for rainbow trout. These springs allowed the growth of one of the largest aquaculture sectors in the nation.
Gary Fornshell is the aquaculture educator for UI Extension and his specialties include aquaculture education and outreach.
About Aquaculture in Idaho
- Idaho is the top producer of trout in the United States.
- Idaho produces about 70 percent of domestic trout in the nation.
- About 95 percent of all trout consumed in the U.S. is farm-raised.
- Idaho trout production averages around 41 million pounds per year.
- Other species produced include over two million pounds of tilapia, a warm water fish similar to a perch; blue and channel catfish; sturgeon meat and caviar; and ornamental fish culture.
- Globally, aquaculture provides more than 50 percent of the world's seafood supply.
Magic Valley Is Key
The first commercial trout farm was started in 1909 near Devil’s Corral just outside of Twin Falls. About 98 percent of Idaho’s aquaculture production occurs in Twin Falls, Gooding and Jerome counties. There are around 80 fish farms in Magic Valley.
Trout, Tilapia and More
Nearly all the rainbow trout produced are processed for human consumption. A considerable amount of trout is processed into value-added products. Value-added products include boneless fillets, ready-to-eat and microwaveable meals, jerky, spreads and smoked products.
Almost all the tilapia grown in Idaho are shipped live to Asian markets on the west coast and in Canada.
The majority of catfish and sturgeon are processed.
Employing About 800 People
The aquaculture industry directly and indirectly employs 800 people. The industry, production and processing, is estimated at $150 million per year.
Issues Tackled by UI Extension
University of Idaho research and Extension have helped improve feed manufacture and waste management. This has improved local water quality. Total phosphorus discharge has been reduced by around 40 percent from 1990 baseline loads.
Environmental regulations, water quantity and profitability will shape the future of aquaculture. Researchers and Extension are working with industry and local, state and federal agencies to maintain the vitality of this Magic Valley industry.
For nutrition and food handling instructors
Seafood At Its Best includes worksheets and videos for those who teach home and commercial food safety and home nutrition.