Fish growers focus on future of aquaculture at annual conference
Industry experts and others gather to discuss farm-raised fish research and trends
Fish grower Sally Eason, CEO of Sunburst Trout Farms, is a featured speaker during the 2013 North Carolina Aquaculture Development Conference, planned for Feb. 7-9 in New Bern. Eason has attended the conference since 2009. Her main message during this year’s conference presentation will be the role locally produced, farm-raised fish plays in meeting the United States’ demand.
In 1948, Eason’s father Dick Jennings opened Sunburst Trout Farms as the first commercial trout processor in the South. The third-generation family owned and operated farm sits on seven acres in Canton, North Carolina, located 35 miles southwest of Asheville.
It grows 250,000 pounds of trout each year – of which 91 percent is sold within North Carolina – and supplies fish to more than 400 chefs across the country. It is one of the few farms that still grows, processes and manufacturers fish on location and the only trout farm that produces and sells 15 different trout products, including fillets, caviar, sausage and jerky.
“Within the next 10 years, there won’t be enough protein left in the seas or on land to feed the world. Aquaculture changes that. It’s an environmentally friendly, sustainable production method that yields top-quality, farm-raised fish,” said Eason.
The conference’s theme, Fish: Made in the USA, is intended to remind North Carolinians of the role aquaculture plays in our state and nation.
“The conference provides an opportunity for academics, farmers and anyone interested in aquaculture to meet, share information, and understand each other’s thoughts and practices. We discuss innovative production methods and available government resources for growers,” Eason said.
Charles Hudson, Sunburst Trout Farms’ research and development chef, will lead a demonstration on how to cook with a milder fish like rainbow trout using a variety of simple recipes that can be replicated and prepared at home.
The conference begins on Thursday, Feb. 7 with area fish farm tours. Presentations and the popular AquaFood Fest, which features ample quantities of the state’s finest farm-raised fish and shellfish, start Feb. 8 on New Bern’s Riverfront at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 100 Middle Street, New Bern, N.C. The event concludes Feb. 9 with concurrent workshops on the resources available to succeed in freshwater and marine aquaculture. Registration and event details are available at www.ncaquaculture.org. Email Cathy_Smith@