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So you want to grow fish!!
Contributed by Mal Gordon

As the aquaculture industry gets its legs and start to run, we find that several people are enthusiastically jumping on board without understanding the basics of what they are getting into.

Don't be mistaken by what I put forward in this article, this industry has enormous potential with several companies doing very well but for every success there are several failures.

And its about those failures that I would hope to save some pain.

I have recently attended two workshops in the Aquaculture industry where high profile international speakers have put forward basically the same message. That message was that the industry can be highly successful if it is approached in a professional manner with careful planning and implementation.

I would add that you do not have to go looking for international expertise to undertake an aquaculture project. However it is important that if you do intend to purchase a Recirculation Aquaculture System (RAS), or contract a group to construct your facility, then you investigate the credentials of the parties involved in particular the capability and experience of the process designer (the person responsible for the correct size and type of the water treatment equipment).

It cannot be stressed enough that if your fish are to live (and presumably grow at an acceptable rate) then the system that you utilise must be engineered to deal with the potential nutrient loads of the growing fish.

It would be reasonable to expect that your GAIN contact would be able to offer a few contact names that could help you on the right path.

The New Fish Farm
In starting up your new venture there are some golden rules to be considered . Initially these issues (listed below) should be thought through on a basic level and if you can find that the venture is still viable than get serious and do them in detail.

There is a wide range of help available from Government regarding all types of aspects of the industry including some areas of financial assistance for the lucky few that fall into the right spot.

The Issues !!!

This growing fish is a business and it must be treated as one from the outset. Your entry into the aquaculture field must have all of those planning functions covered just as if you were starting any business.

Financial Plan
Risk Analysis
Marketing Plan
You will have to fully understand the technical aspect of the aquaculture system you are intending to implement. For example, a high density RAS system will require a sound understanding of issues such as water quality whereas a low density pond system will be somewhat more of a casual approach. The returns for investment (ROI) are also substantially different.

Until you have gained sufficient experience with your stock type you will require some animal husbandry support. DNRE (Fisheries), MAFRI and other Government bodies are now stretched to the limit and will do their best but this is not always in the timely manner that you may need them.

In addition to the above I would seriously consider the timing of commencing the venture and the "ramping up" of the production rates of the facility. There are very few systems that can offer you a guaranteed output from day one of operations and most systems operate on a "batch" type of production rate.

Consequently the first year income could be lower than expected and not as a continuous stream over the operating period. This could leave you with a potential cash flow problem that could take 2 or 3 seasons of hard work to negotiate.

On a closing note, even if the above issues seam a little daunting, there are still people out there doing it well and some doing it better than others.



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