Michigan’s Aquaculture Industry

Exploring and Expanding Michigan’s Aquaculture Industry: Integrated Assessment

Aquaculture has grown tremendously on a global scale in recent decades and now meets nearly half the world’s seafood demand. Projections indicate that demand will continue to grow. Michigan has the potential to support a vibrant aquaculture industry — with abundant freshwater, affordable real estate, a need for new economic opportunities, and existing valuable expertise in fisheries, agriculture and food processing. However, commercial aquaculture development in the state has been stagnant for decades.

Aquaculture in Michigan and the U.S. has been challenged by concerns over water pollution, fish disease, unintended introduction of non-native species, effects on wild species and food safety. Industry expansion has been restrained by real and perceived regulations designed to address these challenges.

Project Description

Sea Grant Funds: $149,301 | Matching Funds: $98,476

This project will address the causes and consequences of the current underdeveloped aquaculture industry in Michigan, specifically production of seafood for human consumption. A comprehensive and thorough assessment of Michigan aquaculture will help the project team — along with potential and existing aquaculture practitioners, policy makers, the general public and other interested stakeholders — understand the complex interactions between aquaculture industry growth, regulatory control, economics and stakeholder risks and benefits.

The project will be carried out in four phases over the course of two years:

Phase I Perform Needs Assessment. The assessment will be designed to determine the overall scope of the aquaculture issue. Status, attributes and barriers facing Michigan’s aquaculture industry will be identified, as will current and potential stakeholders.

Phase IIEvaluate the Problem. The research team will analyze and categorize the information gathered in Phase I. They will evaluate the issues that were identified and assess what kind of impact they may have on the industry.

Phase IIIDevelop Resolution Strategies. Using the evaluation generated in Phase II, develop and vet strategies for expanding Michigan’s aquaculture activities into a sustainable seafood production industry.

Phase IVDevelop and Initiate Strategic Plan. The information that has thus far been gathered, assessed and evaluated will be incorporated into a written strategic action plan designed to expand Michigan’s current aquaculture activities.

By the end of the two-year research period, the team intends to have identified what critical elements are restricting Michigan’s current commercial aquaculture activities, what actions must be taken to address the situation and what benefits aquaculture could contribute to Michigan.

The project will provide:

  • A written strategic plan for expanding Michigan’s aquaculture activities into a sustainable seafood production industry, which can be used as a guide for future planning and implementation.
  • A better understanding of sustainable aquaculture and benefits associated with seafood in general by stakeholders.
  • A better understanding by stakeholders for planned development of sustainable aquaculture in Michigan and how this will be beneficial to the state.

Featured Publications

Featured Graphics

13-713 RAS aquaculture IA diagram


Project Team

Lead Researcher:
Christopher Weeks, Ph.D
Extension/Research Specialist
Michigan State University
(517) 353-2298

Project Coordinator/Stakeholder Contact:
Joe Colyn
Originz, LLC

Policy Contact:
Mike DiBernardo
Economic Developmet Specialist, Michigan Department of Agriculture

(616) 581-1360

Michigan Sea Grant Contact:
Ron Kinnunen
Extension Educator, Upper Penninsula
(906) 226-3687