By Joe Morris–Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
Aquaculture producers looking for a new opportunity may want to consider the benefits of raising walleye. The firm, white flesh, and mildly sweet flavor make walleye, “a favorite seafood choice in North America and northern Europe,” according to the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation, and a newly released technical bulletin called, “Production of Walleye as Potential Food Fish.”
Joe Morris, professor and extension aquaculture specialist at Iowa State University, said walleye have actually been identified as one of the top six potential species of aquaculture in the United States. “Walleye is a valued and a desired species for the consumer in the Midwest,” said Morris, who also serves as director of the North Central Regional Aquaculture Center, based at Iowa State.
The publication outlines the challenges and opportunities of raising walleye, including production and retail costs. Walleye have a retail price range of $6-12 per pound, with high prices of $20 per pound or more to select white-table markets.
Walleye are adaptable to pond, cage, and tank culture systems, as well as pond systems, but require a little more work to train to habituation to feed on commercial diets, according to Morris.
Producers need to think critically about their marketing efforts, how much fish they can supply and of what size. For most markets, an 8-10 oz. walleye fillet is desirable for restaurants and wholesalers; 4-6 oz. skinless frozen fillets are considered as ideal size for individual portions.
The publication explains the tank and pond requirements, nutritional needs, and other steps to producing market-ready walleye. Walleye require a higher feed protein content, and result in a high protein finished product. Skinless fillets from tank-cultured walleye have a protein content of about 20% and a fat content of less than 1%, according to the publication.
The publication offers useful comparisons to other fish species, with information compiled by university researchers and state and federal agencies.
For more information, review the publication or contact Joe Morris at 515-294-4622, or [email protected]