Aquaculture 101

Welcome to what we hope is a useful resource for Minnesota aquaculture farmers and anyone looking for information about fish farming in Minnesota.

  • The information below is curated list of resources selected by our fisheries and aquaculture extension educator and fisheries specialist; it is not exhaustive. 
  • See the project listing to the left or our Fisheries and Aquaculture Program webpage for specific projects.

MNSG's role

Minnesota Sea Grant is a federal-university partnership program that brings water science to coastal communities. The nationwide Sea Grant network is composed of 34 university-based programs located along the coastal and Great Lakes states. Sea Grant's mission is to enhance the practical use and conservation of coastal, marine, and Great Lakes resources in order to maintain a sustainable economy and environment. Sea Grant is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which falls under the Department of Commerce. Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture is one of Sea Grant's four main focus areas.

Nonadvocacy. Sea Grant is not an advocate for aquaculture, but we do fund and develop the science that answers important questions about the economic, social, and environmental concerns that surround aquaculture. Once that information is acquired, Sea Grant transfers that science in an unbiased manner to interested stakeholders.   

Aquaculture in Minnesota. Aquaculture in Minnesota is composed of the bait industry, fish for stocking, and raising fish for food. Conservatively, aquaculture contributes about $5 million annually to Minnesota (~50% from bait fish, ~25% from stocking, and ~25% from food fish).

Minnesota aquaculture legislation.

  • It's been 34 years since Minnesota wrote its last inclusive (i.e., state agencies) aquaculture plan in 1989.
  • 1988 Minnesota Aquaculture Committee was formed, which represented nine state agencies.
  • 1989 Consultant hired to write an aquaculture plan with input and oversight from the state advisory committee. This 1989 plan is still in place in 2023. 
  • 2008 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provided a policy update on the use of public wetlands for aquaculture.
  • 2011 Minnesota DNR developed a best management practices document for aquaculture, aquatic invasive species, water quality wild fish stocks, and environmental issues.
  • 2022 With encouragement and testimony from the Minnesota Aquaculture Association (MNAA) and others interested in sustainable aquaculture, including Minnesota Sea Grant (MNSG), the Legislature allocated funds to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDOA) to develop a revised aquaculture plan.
  • 2023 A steering committee was formed by the MDOA to guide the planning process and hire a consultant to work on the revised aquaculture plan with input from the steering committee.
  • The steering committee is composed of aquaculture producers, state agencies, and representatives from the MNAA, the University of Minnesota and MNSG.
  • The steering committee and consultant will work closely with all stakeholders interested in aquaculture to gain their input and hear their concerns.

Why aquaculture is important now (2023). 

  • Food systems are evolving and the demand for locally grown food has increased. The United States imports 60-75% of our seafood and local aquaculture could provide a more sustainable source.
  • The 2020-2021 COVID pandemic has disrupted food and other supply chains; advancing aquaculture is one means to address food supply chain issues.
  • Aquaculture technology is advancing to make aquaculture more sustainable.
  • There is a shortage of bait for recreational anglers in Minnesota. Concerns about aquatic invasive species and disease prohibit importation of bait based on Minnesota laws.

Minnesota Aquaculture Newsletter.

  • The Minnesota Aquaculture Newsletter will be published two to four times per year to share aquaculture-related information with interested communities. To receive this newsletter directly subscribe to Minnesota Sea Grant and select "aquaculture" as a topic of interest.
  • Visit MNSG's newsletters webpage for an archive of the Minnesota Aquaculture Newsletter.

The following programs provide research and outreach funding for various aquaculture activities. Most funding is announced on an annual or periodic basis so if interested in aquaculture funding it is good practice to check these sites often.

Three excellent references that provide a large variety of aquaculture funding opportunities include:


The following is a curated list of websites we think you'll find useful. MNSG fish and aquaculture projects are on our Fisheries and Aquaculture Program webpage.

Great Lakes Aquaculture Collaborative began as a three-year (Sept. 1, 2019 to Aug. 31, 2022) federally funded project that seeks to create a regionwide group to foster relevant, science-based initiatives that support aquaculture industries in the Great Lakes region that are environmentally responsible, competitive, and sustainable. In 2022, funding was extended through 2024.

Minnesota Aquaculture Association. MNAA was formed in 2019 to support aquaculture in Minnesota.

Great Lakes Fresh Fish Finder was developed to meet a need to directly connect fish producers with consumers after the disruption of traditional markets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eat Midwest Fish is an online resource hub that educates consumers about sustainable aquaculture in the Midwest.

Eat Wisconsin Fish is a source for information about food fish that are commercially harvested or farmed in Wisconsin.

NOAA US Aquaculture includes information on aquaculture grant services, the NOAA Aquaculture Strategic Plan, and U.S. Aquaculture Hubs.

NOAA Fisheries includes information on regulation and policy, science and technology, regional activities, and outreach and education.

National Sea Grant Office Aquaculture.

NOAA: Guide to Federal Aquaculture Grant Services. Federal agencies collaborated to create a Guide to Federal Aquaculture Grant Services that focuses on federal grant programs that aquaculture producers, researchers, and other stakeholders may be eligible for.

North Central Regional Aquaculture Center.

Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility.

Wisconsin Aquaculture Association.

Great Lakes Sea Grant programs with aquaculture-specific web content:


The following is a curated list of videos we think you'll find useful.

Consumer Education on Seafood and Aquaculture
In 2023, Minnesota Sea Grant and Spark-Y partnered to help develop and share youth educational materials and programming about seafood and aquaculture. The collaboration produced the two videos below, which include a demonstration on how to filet a fish, and a cooking demonstration on how to prepare a fish taco.

Great Lakes Aquaculture Days 2022: Fish Health Workshop
The six videos below are from the Great Lakes Aquaculture Days 2022 Fish Health Workshop hosted by the Minnesota Sea Grant-led Great Lakes Aquaculture Collaborative.

Great Lakes Aquaculture Days 2021: Minnesota Fish-Farm Virtual Tour
The video below is part of the Minnesota Sea Grant-led Great Lakes Aquaculture Collaborative.

Minnesota Aquaculture Bait Production Farm Virtual Tour
The video below is part of the Minnesota Sea Grant-led Great Lakes Aquaculture Collaborative and the Great Lakes website.

Aquaculture Supply Chain in Minnesota
The video below is part of the Minnesota Sea Grant-led Fisheries and Aquaculture Supply Chain project.

Fisheries Supply Chain in Minnesota
The video below is part of the Minnesota Sea Grant-led Fisheries and Aquaculture Supply Chain project.



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