Retired Mississippi State Extension Aquaculture Specialist Jim Steeby continues to help Mississippi’s catfish farmers do better. After a thirty-year career in aquaculture, Steeby retired from Mississippi State University in 2010.

Last September the U.S. Department of Agriculture presented Steeby with a technology transfer award for his work on treating channel catfish eggs with copper sulfate to improve their survival in fish hatcheries. Copper sulfate is an economical treatment used to control fungus and parasites on catfish eggs. Steeby worked with the USDA team at the Stuttgart National Aquaculture facility.

The Catfish Farmers of America honored Steeby for his outstanding service, research and Extension work related to nearly all aspects of the catfish industry.

With the recent slump in the catfish industry, Steeby is helping several of the state’s producers find alternative sources of income.

Last year he and MSU Extension Aquaculture Leader Jimmy Avery led a series of pond reclaiming workshops in Choctaw, Miss., and Stoneville, Miss.

He also served as a consultant to help Delta fish farmers apply for benefits under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program. The TAA provides financial assistance to those growers who suffered reduced income or wages because of increased imports. To qualify for TAA benefits, catfish producers need to develop and submit business plans. Steeby guides applicants through the process.

As a consultant to the Land O Lakes Corporation, Steeby visits farms to determine fish inventories and farm needs associated with feeding loans.

“I feel my greatest accomplishment in aquaculture has been working with the commercial and catfish hatcheries in the Mississippi Delta. Working with researchers and growers we have improved hatching success and have shortened the period of time until fry are stocked in ponds,” Steeby said.

Steeby has also portrayed Cap’t Catfish at events like Belzoni’s annual World Catfish Festival each April.

A native of Michigan, Steeby studied agriculture at Michigan State and then joined the Peace Corps, during which time he worked with Asian carp and tilapia in India and Africa.

He holds a master’s degree from Auburn and a doctorate from Mississippi State University. Last summer MSU named Steeby Associate Extension Professor emeritus.

Steeby can be reached at the Humphreys County, Miss., Extension Office by calling (662) 247-2915 or (662) 822-8541, or by email at jsteeby@ext.msstate.edu.