Heartland Catfish Co.—the United States’ largest catfish farming and processing company—has attained Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification for its Mississippi processing plant, the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) announced in mid-November.
The Itta Bena, Mississippi, plant processes live catfish. Heartland Catfish processes 60 million to 75 million pounds (27 million to 34 million kilograms) of live fish per year from farms located in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas.
In August, the company’s Greensboro, Alabama, plant, which has been repurposed into a repacking plant, earned re-certification; the plant was first certified in 2010. Approximately 15% of the company’s finished product is repacked at the Alabama plant.
Heartland Catfish is a vertically integrated company, hatching, raising and processing its catfish and shipping a majority of it using its own truck fleet. The company produces a variety of fresh, frozen, breaded and marinated catfish products that are marketed to retail and foodservice customers across the United States.
Through the end of October, the combined annual output from BAP-certified catfish processing facilities totaled approximately 45,500 metric tons, the vast majority of which originated from the United States.
Best Aquaculture Practices is an international certification program based on achievable, science-based and continuously improved performance standards for the entire aquaculture supply chain — farms, hatcheries, processing plants and feed mills — that assure healthful foods produced through environmentally and socially responsible means. BAP certification is based on independent audits that evaluate compliance with the BAP standards developed by the Global Aquaculture Alliance. For more information on BAP, visit http://bap.gaalliance.org.