A Friday night fish fry just wouldn’t be the same without the sweet, mild flavor of the Midwest’s favorite fish, yellow perch. While fishing regulations now limit availability of the popular fish to the hungry public, Bell Aquaculture seeks to feed that demand with its farm-raised yellow perch. What is aquaculture?
Since launching in 2008, Bell’s fish has been featured at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City, at Austin’s Smokin’ Steakhouse in Cleveland, Ohio, and the French Lick Resort in southern Indiana.
Largest in the Nation
Bell Aquaculture, which is located in Indiana, is the nation’s largest yellow perch farm. “We chose to raise yellow perch for two reasons: the high demand for the popular fish and the limited supply available,” says Norman McCowan, president.
Raising fish from its own “broodstock” – or breeding stock – to processing and packaging on-site, Bell is unique in its commitment and ability to have a hand in the entire process from beginning to end.
“Our self-contained indoor facilities allow us to fully control the growing environment of Bell perch, which is key to reducing the threat of contamination and disease,” McCowan says. “Controlling the environment also allows us to raise more fish in winter months, unlike outdoor ponds.”
Commitment to Sustainable Farming
The environment and sustainability are top priorities for the farm, which recently received Indiana’s Certified Livestock Producer program certification from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.
“We feel the Certified Livestock Producer program is a reflection of the quality and best management practices we were already implementing every day,” McCowan says. “We are constantly looking for ways to be responsible from cradle to grave. Whenever possible, we try to reduce our water and energy consumption, purchase locally, and we are currently working with Purdue and the Indiana Soybean Alliance to develop grain-based feeds.”
Furthering the company’s commitment, Bell is also in the process of developing an organic fertilizer that will enable it to return remains of the Bell perch processed at its facility to the earth with no waste. Scheduled to launch in the spring of 2011, Fish Rich – an all-natural fertilizer – is appropriate for all types of flowers, fruits and vegetables and will even be available for specialty blend requests.
Find more articles about sustainable farms in My Indiana Home magazine.