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The many faces of fish farming: This issue, meet Norman McCowan

by Amy Riedel-Stone

REDKEY, IN – If you are around this industry long enough, you’re definitely going to meet some people who leave a lasting impression — and a few who just seem destined to end up growing fish.

Norman McCowan – known to many of you as the dynamic president and CEO of Bell Aquaculture, headquartered here about 80 miles northeast of Indianapolis – is one of those people.

He grew up in rural Indiana and was often found fishing in the nearby Wabash River.  As a child, Normal would sometimes take home his live catch and try keeping the fish alive in the family bathtub.  He quickly and astutely determined that this did not work.

Never a quitter, as Norman grew into adulthood he set up aquariums in his garage and began importing fish from around the world.  Locally, he was known as “that crazy fish guy.”

As it worked out, Norman’s career path actually did not begin with fish farming, but his love of fish endured and eventually got him to where he is today.

He started his career in the automotive industry, working as a production line supervisor for Honda.

In 2007, Michael Miller, co-founder of Bell Aquaculture, was looking for someone with fish knowledge to help him expand the farm.

Being from the same area, Miller was referred to McCowan, and so began Norman’s journey into commercial fish farming.

At the time he joined Bell, the operation was focused on growing market-sized yellow perch – a popular species in the Upper Midwest which had been largely dependent on wild harvest to meet market demand.

Under Norman’s direction, the company has focused on both the science of the fish they are culturing (with a rigorous genetics program), as well as the environmental impacts of fish production – by making sure the technology they use leaves the smallest possible “footprint.”

…read the rest and much, much more in Issue 6, 2014 of Fish Farming News.
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