There are tremendous growth potentials for aquaculture industry due to the fact that the seafood demand outpaces supply and world fishery resources are quickly depleting. It will be great for aspiring entrepreneurs who can take grab the opportunity to get started and establish themselves early as pioneers in this global emerging industry. Like any other business, aquaculture can be risky and careful planning is recommended before one starts.
Five elements essential to a successful fish farming enterprise are: suitable land, suitable water, adequate financing, sustainable market for product, and management time and skills. The business owner must be equipped to handle:
- Poor water quality
- Disease and parasites
- Pesticide contaminations
- Poachers and vandals
- Competition from local and import products
- Business challenges unique to an island environment (e.g., increased cost of feed, distance to market)
- Personal stress resulting from risk management
Cost of A New Business
The amount of money one will need to start an aquaculture business depends on the scale and type of production desired. A “backyard” project may cost a few hundred dollars to construct if a site is available and produces hundreds of pounds of fish for family consumption. A profitable commercial farm, however, may require 5 to 10 more acres to have a viable economic unit, depending on the type of culture technology being used and the species grown. A large-scale, semi-intensive or intensive production farm of 50 to 100 acres could easily cost several million dollars to construct.
To thorough learn details of an aquaculture business, click on Fish Farming Checklist for Hawaii.
Example of A Fish Farm’s Budget
The link below is an example of a hybrid striped bass farm’s budget prepared by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Program to give interested people a general idea of how a farm’s budget looks like.
Marketing of Seafood Products
Marketing is ultimately important to a farm. Successful marketing can help a farmer sell his products and start another production cycle. Key concepts of marketing are elaborated below for farmers’ information to stay proactive as a business.
- Study The Market
Before starting an aquaculture business, one is recommended to research the market find out the viability of his idea. This process is to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a proposed venture, the feasibility within the estimated cost and chance of making a profit. One will learn current market segmentation, project growth in the segment he chooses, compare current market offerings, learn his customer profiles, and hopefully choose an operation/management structure and management method through this process.
- Distribution Channels
After harvest farmers sell their seafood to primary processors who then sell to seafood distributors. The distributors sell to seafood brokers, who then sell to retail stores or food service establishments.
Branding is very important to a business’ success. It helps consumers recognize a company’s products from those of competitors’ and become loyal to the brand. Successful branding entails identifying a niche segment, careful positioning based on differentiation, articulating a brand’s promise and delivering the promised value, and possibly telling a story.
- Current Marketing/Sales Channels
Currently ethnic markets, such as Chinatown, and farmers’ market are the important outlets for local producers to sell their products. Organic stores such as Whole Foods, Down To Earth and etc. also carry local products. Traditional grocery stores sometimes carry them too. If the consistency of quality and volume can be improved, the farmers can sell more of their products.
HDOA has “Buy Local, It Matters” campaign and the “Seal of Quality” program to encourage local consumers to buy more local products. To learn more about these marketing programs, go to: