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Best Management Practices For West Alabama Catfish Production: Creating Profitability Through Efficiency, Consistency, and Quality




Courtwright, Corey

Type of Degree



Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures


The U.S. catfish industry is in a time of transition. In the last several years feed prices have been at historically high levels as fish prices have fluctuated wildly. Furthermore, in recent years the industry has experienced increased competition from foreign imports as well as alternative products from domestic producers. Now more than ever producing a quality product is of paramount importance to compete for market share. Now is the time for the U.S. catfish industry to modernize. They must consistently produce a high quality. In order to continue the process of increasing product quality and consistency in U.S. farm raised catfish this study looks at the development of best management practices from a farm level. Surveys were sent to every farm producing food size catfish in Alabama. Information was gathered on the complete range of farm management practices and paired with production and profitability data in order to produce regression models predicting farm production (on a per acre basis) as well as profitability (Chapter 3). Issues of quality are also addressed focusing on yellow fillet (Chapter 2) and off-flavor (Chapter 4). Regression equations were developed to examine the relationship between farm management practices and yellow fillet as well as off-flavor. These regression equations provide farm managers a tool to predict the outcome of a management change on the quality and quantity of catfish that their farm will produce. This study ends with a chapter updating best management practices from the literature Chapter 5) as well as a chapter outlining a system where fish are sold under a merit based marketing system where the price paid to producers rewards higher quality fish (Chapter 6). Such a system can serve as a catalyst for change in the industry.