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Agriculture Press Release

July 2, 2002

Sales of Florida Aquaculture Products Top $99 Million

TALLAHASSEE -- A survey released recently shows that sales of Florida aquaculture products totaled $99.5 million in 2001, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson announced today.

The report was produced by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Florida Agricultural Statistics Service, and University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The survey of the stateís aquaculture producers has been conducted every two years since 1988.

Total aquaculture sales for 2001 represent a 16 percent increase over the $86 million reported in 1999. There were 684 active operations in 2001, of which 531 reported sales.

Aquaculture got its start in Florida in the early 1920s with the production of tropical fish. Over the years, the industry expanded into a broad range of species including aquatic plants, catfish, hybrid striped bass, alligator, hard clams, oysters and more. Much of Florida aquaculture consists of ornamental species, such as tropical fish and plants. More than 800 varieties of ornamental fish are produced in Florida; mainstays include mollies, guppies, angelfish, tetras and barbs. More than 500 aquatic plant species are grown and sold to enhance the function and aesthetics of aquariums or garden pools and fountains; species range from aquarium plants, to flowering water lilies, to submerged wetland grasses, shrubs and trees.

The Florida aquaculture industry is characterized by many small businesses, in which the owner/operator and family members or partners provide much of the labor. Just over 7,000 acres of land and water surface is utilized by Florida aquaculture operations. Two-thirds of the operations encompass five acres or less.

The increase in aquaculture sales in 2001 reflects increases in sales of aquatic plants, other fish (primarily hybrid striped bass), and shrimp. Among the reportís highlights:

The leading segment of the Florida aquaculture industry continues to be tropical fish, which accounted for 42.6 percent of total sales, with $42.4 million from the 160 producers who reported sales.

Aquatic plants rank second, accounting for 21.4 percent of total sales, with $21.3 million from the 38 growers who reported sales.

Hard clams (including seed) rank third, accounting for 18.4 percent of total sales, with $18.3 million from the 231 producers who reported sales.

Shrimp ranks fourth, accounting for 7.5 percent of total sales, with $7.4 million from the eight producers who reported sales.

Alligators ranks fifth, accounting for 3.3 percent of total sales, with $3.25 million from the 14 growers who reported sales.

Through its Division of Aquaculture, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services promotes the growth of aquaculture in the state while safeguarding the environment. The Department regulates the industry through the Aquaculture Certification Program and the Industryís Best Management Practices (BMP) Program. It also administers programs to promote industry growth through production and technical support to help ensure that prospective aquafarmers have a reasonable chance of succeeding.

For more information about aquaculture in Florida, visit This Internet web site provides valuable information to those already involved in the industry, as well as prospective entrepreneurs, researchers and the general public. The site contains information on the types of aquatic species being farmed, an overview of the importance of aquaculture to Florida, the status of shellfish harvesting areas, procedures for aquaculture farm certification and lease applications. Users are also able to download and print shellfish harvesting area maps.


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