As yields from global wild fisheries have plateaued, aquaculture has played an increasingly important role in supplying seafood to satisfy the growing market demand.

The United States imports about 90% of its seafood – mostly from Asia – and about half of this is from aquaculture.

What potential, if any, does aquaculture hold for small farms in the Appalachian region?

The Berea College Farm has been evaluating the feasibility of small-scale pond aquaculture for several years, producing prawns, tilapia, bluegill and catfish.

But achieving profitability at this scale is a challenge.

Foreign competition and regulatory hurdles present real obstacles to creating a successful business enterprise.

One specialty product with promise is smoked catfish.

The National Restaurant Association recently reported that local and sustainable seafood is among the top 10 food trends in the US.

So perhaps stronger demand for fresh, local fish will generate opportunities for aquaculture in the region.