The Virginia Natural Fish Company is supplied by the Virginia Aqua-Farmers Network, LLC, a cooperative of 19 producers located predominately in Southside Virginia. VAN provides its customers with fresh, safe products raised to exceptionally high standards.
From installation of carefully constructed ponds to the moment the product is sold, VAN members are involved on a daily basis in raising and processing their fish and prawns the right way.
- Water Quality: The water is tested regularly to monitor levels of oxygen, hardness, alkalinity, pH, nitrites and chlorides. Special testing kits are used.
Environmental Quality: No insecticides, herbicides, fungicides or algicides are used in or around the ponds, which means manually removing grass and weeds. This is very labor intensive.
- Fish Fingerlings and Juvenile Prawns: Good quality animals are purchased as close to home as possible, transported under optimal conditions, and stocked in ponds immediately. This is another costly and labor-intensive process. Farmers could raise more fish in their ponds, but overcrowding leads to disease and loss of animals.
- Feeding: The young fish and prawns are put into the water and fed a high protein diet without the use of growth hormones or antibiotics. The feed was developed specifically for aqua-farming, and contains the proper amounts of protein and minerals needed to raise healthy fish. This feed is more expensive.
- Aeration: The ponds are continually aerated to provide adequate oxygen for the fish, which helps build their immune systems and prevents disease. When ponds are aerated properly, the cost to run the equipment is high.
- Fish Health: In addition to adequate oxygen, evaporated salt is used regularly to assure optimal gill health. This prevents the onset of bacterial infections, avoiding the need for antibiotics.
- Harvesting and Processing: When the fish are harvested, they are immediately rinsed and transported to a USDA-inspected facility, processed, vacuum-sealed and frozen. The prawns are harvested, rinsed, iced down and transported to a USDA-inspected facility where they are processed, individually quick frozen (IQF) and packaged. Harvest to freezer is all done in one day.
- GAqP Training: All VAN producers are trained in Good Aquaculture Practices to ensure that the highest quality is maintained