The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

November 28, 2012

Aquaculture industry promises bright future

CHARLESTON — West Virginia’s fledgling aquaculture industry holds the promise of a bright future, and no operation typifies this better than a Raleigh County one, Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Steve Miller said Tuesday.

Blessed with cold, clean water, West Virginia could reap some dramatic benefits in the future by raising fish, Miller told the Agriculture and Agri-business Committee.

Miller pointed to Mountaineer Trout, a setup just below Sophia, and launched at an abandoned coal mine site more than a decade ago by Tom Ort.

In that operation, clean water flows at a rate of up to 1,200 gallons a minute, and is about 55 degrees, conducive to raising trout, Miller said.

Upwards of half a million pounds of fish are produced there annually, he noted.

“Operator Tom Ort is doing an excellent job,” Miller said.

Overall, the aquaculture business reflects an output of between $2 million and $3 million a year, the deputy agriculture commissioner said.

Miller said one hurdle was cleared three years ago when the Legislature agreed to consider fish manure no different than waste materials excreted by farm animals.

Two years ago, the Legislature enacted a law that declared the fishing industry as agriculture and designated his department as the lead agency, Miller said.

Another outgrowth was the creation of an advisory board that meets monthly. Ort is a member.

Miller said another key development came when a distinction was made between wild fish that thrive in streams and are governed by the DNR exclusively, and commercial fish such as those produced by Ort’s operation.

One key need, however, is a critical one — a processor.

“That’s what the industry needs today,” Miller said.

“If you talk to any of our fish producers, especially our friend in Raleigh County, the need is a processor. He knows how to raise fish but he doesn’t know how to process. That may be an opportunity for someone in the state to look into that.”

Miller told of a dairy farmer in Monroe County who inquired about raising fish for a side income.

“Mr. Ort at Mountaineer Trout has proven we can make money at it,” the agriculture official said.

Several legislators agreed that the fledgling industry could prove to be a bonanza for entrepreneurs.

“I think there’s a future in this industry,” Delegate Larry Williams, D-Preston, said.

“It certainly opens up another opportunity for agriculture and is something we need to explore more. I think there’s a real opportunity for farmers in the future.”

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • twv twins One Hatfield, two actors

    If you shake hands with the cast and crew at Theatre West Virginia after the show, don’t worry if you think you’re seeing double.
    Jacob and James Cline, 12-year-old twins, are a part of the team this year, assisting  with props and portraying Little Troy Hatfield.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Construction begins on Meadow River Rail Trail

    Construction has finally begun on the Meadow River Rail Trail, a recreation project undertaken in a unique partnership between Greenbrier and Fayette counties.

    July 25, 2014

  • AARP reps talk future of Social Security

    The future of Social Security was on the menu at a listening session staged Thursday by AARP West Virginia at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.

    July 25, 2014

  • Juvenile petitions sought against teens in Mount Hope B&Es

    The Fayette County Sheriff’s Department is filing juvenile petitions against two Page-area teens after two businesses in the Mount Hope area were broken into early Thursday.

    July 25, 2014

  • US issues 186 mining citations in June

    The Mine Safety and Health Administration says inspectors issued 186 citations at 13 U.S. mining operations in June.

    July 24, 2014

  • Lawsuit filed after Dirty Girl Run canceled

    A lawsuit has been filed against the producers of a run that was canceled in Charleston in which participants were told they wouldn't be issued refunds.

    July 24, 2014

  • Juveniles caught after breaking and entering in Fayette

    The Fayette County Sheriff’s Department is filing juvenile petitions against two teens from the Page area after two businesses in the Mount Hope area were broken into.

    July 24, 2014

  • Saints arrive 1 Saints march into ‘Almost Heaven, W.Va.’

    At 3:54 p.m. Wednesday afternoon the New Orleans Saints’ chartered flight touched the ground at the Greenbrier Valley Airport, and Greenbrier County officially became “Who Dat?” Country. INCLUDES TOUT VIDEO.

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Broadband panel eyes access to rural areas

    The West Virginia Broadband Deployment Council met far outside its typical Charleston venue Wednesday to hear issues about Internet speeds in some of the state’s most rural regions.

    July 24, 2014

  • Lewisburg official says fuel spill contained, drinking water safe

    Lewisburg’s public works director is confident that a Tuesday afternoon fuel spill 60 miles upriver from the city water system’s intake has been contained and the water is safe to drink.

    July 24, 2014