Florida is the only state in the nation surrounded on three sides by two major bodies of water – the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Fishing, both commercial and recreational, is big business in the Sunshine State.
Pound for pound Florida’s greatest aquaculture crop doesn’t come from the ocean, but from tanks and man-made ponds on shore. It is true that along Florida’s shoreline are 154 aqua farms raising oysters and clams. Oysters from Apalachicola Bay are quite notable.
Florida sea asparagus is a aquaculture crop
But inland is where the farming fish boom is headed with 96 bass and tilapia farms, 34 catfish farms, 22 shrimp and crawfish farms, and even six baitfish farms. While these are growing industries, Florida takes in more revenue per pound from its 155 ornamental fish farms which lead the nation in producing tropical fish and ornamental water plants for millions of fish tanks around the globe.
The eastern shoreline of Tampa Bay is lined with ornamental fish ponds in farms that range from 10 to 100 acres of rare tropical fish. The fish farms in the Miami area house their tropicals in above ground tanks due to coral rock in the hard ground. When a cold wave hits Florida, it is not just strawberries and winter vegetables that get covered and warmed – tropical fish need protection too.
Tampa Bay fish farms produce tropical fish
In a good week at Tampa International Airport some 10,000 boxes of tropical fish are flown out. This is one living crop that is shipped in a box.
Recently, an even more valuable aquaculture product is coming out of Florida. Florida may one day be the world’s largest producer of the top grade of caviar in the world. At a time when Russian species of surgeon are on the endangered list and restrictions are being applied to that industry, Florida has complete sturgeon aquaculture.
The 100 acre Evans Farm, located in Pierson, Florida, is the home to the first American Russian Sturgeon operation with Ossetra, Siberian, and Sevruga sturgeon. Their Anastasia Gold Caviar is a true, premium caviar that rivals the Caspian caviar without affecting the survival of the wild resource.
Over in Bascom, Florida, in the Panhandle, is Sturgeon AquaFarms, the largest Beluga aqua farm in the world. In fact, their 100 tanks contain more Beluga sturgeon than what’s left in the Caspian Sea. The farmers here grew up in Russia making caviar and now on 120 acres of Florida real estate, they work with over 100,000 Sevruga, Sterlet, Osetra, and the critically endangered Beluga sturgeon.
These tiny fish will soon produce black gold
Already the top restaurants around the world are lining up for purchase the few special batches of Anastasia Special Reserve, a smooth and buttery caviar that must be shipped only Tuesday through Friday to reach its global destination at its awe-inspiring peak of flavor. It isn’t an inexpensive item. It is Florida’s most expensive aquaculture product.