Theses and Dissertations


Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Karunakaran, Ganesh K.

Committee Member

Avery, Jimmy L.

Committee Member

Aarattuthodi, Suja

Committee Member

Engle, Carole R.

Committee Member

van Senten, Jonathan

Other Advisors or Committee Members

Johnson, Jeffrey W.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Forest Resources

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Forest Resources


Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture


This research provides a comprehensive picture of the economic status of the U.S. catfish industry through investigating several critical economic aspects such as technological progress, functional production relationships in intensive systems, regulatory costs, and economic contribution of the industry. The use of primary data is a unique aspect of this work reflecting the economic realities of catfish farms. Primary data collected through extensive in-person farm surveys covered over two-thirds of the catfish production areas in the U.S. The results of the study provided evidence of intensification in the U.S. catfish industry through increased adoption of two relatively new alternative production systems viz; intensively aerated ponds (6,315 ha) and split ponds (1,176 ha). The use of complementary technologies such as hybrid catfish on 53% of the catfish producing area and increased fixed-paddlewheel aeration rate of over 7.8 kW/ha also provided proof of technological progress on U.S. catfish farms. This study also identified critical factors contributing to productivity in increasingly adopted alternative production systems through two distinct production function models. Feed fed, as well as stocking biomass were found to be significant variables in both production functions. Results indicated further room for improvement in the use of inputs to increase production, especially in feed management. Along with identifying the nuances in the catfish industry, the study quantified regulatory costs on U.S. catfish farms at $45 million. Although faced with several hardships on the production front, the U.S. catfish industry contributes over $1.9 billion to the regional economy, supports more than 9,100 jobs, and generates over $78 million in tax revenues. The findings of the study serve a multitude of stakeholders including aquaculture farmers, researchers, Extension specialists, and policymakers who work towards improving the economic sustainability of the catfish industry as well as the U.S. aquaculture industry.

Available for download on Wednesday, May 15, 2024