Promote the development of
environmentally safe and sustainable aquaculture to meet the
growing national and global needs for protein from seafood and
to relieve pressure on wild fish stocks.
Expected increases in world
population are projected to intensify the global demand for edible
seafood. The aquaculture industry, which propagates and rears
aquatic plants and animals, can provide consumers with high-quality,
safe, and affordable seafood and other important fish products,
and thereby reduce pressure on wild stocks and help their recovery.
The global aquaculture industry,
whose production is valued at nearly $1 billion in the U.S. and
$40 billion worldwide, currently supplies less than 10% of the
nation's seafood demands. Improving U.S. aquaculture production
can simultaneously provide more seafood to domestic markets and
help offset the U.S. trade deficit in edible seafood products,
which has increased by 139% since 1992 and now stands at $6 billion
annually the largest for any agricultural commodity. Aquaculture
can also make major contributions to U.S. local, regional, and
national economies by creating business opportunities both here
and abroad and by providing employment in a new and diverse industry.
The U.S. has the opportunity
to lead the world in developing sustainable aquaculture technologies
based on renewable resources and advancing international guidelines
for the industry, which provides 25% of the world's fish supplies.
However, the continued growth of aquaculture in land-based systems
and coastal environments and any expansion of aquaculture into
the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone must be conducted in an environmentally
sound manner. Although coastal environments are primarily under
state control, the federal government can play a significant
role in assisting tribal and state aquaculture efforts through
research and the regulatory process.
- U.S. aquaculture development
is restricted by a lack of species ready for commercial culture,
sophisticated engineering requirements, sparse information on
diseases and ways to treat them, and marketing and distribution
- Concern exists about the potential
environmental impacts of some aquaculture operations, especially
genetic and disease consequences for wild stocks, introduction
of nonindigenous species, coastal habitat alteration, effluent
effects on habitat, and interactions with marine mammals and
- No comprehensive regulatory
framework exists for permitting aquaculture operations.
- Although aquaculture has proven
to be a valuable tool to increase salmon populations, its effectiveness
remains unknown for other fish and shellfish stocks.
- Support research and develop
pilot projects for hatchery and nursery development, closed-system
production techniques, processing, and marketing.
- Work with stakeholders to
develop guidelines for environmentally sound and sustainable
aquaculture by the end of the year 2000, and promote domestic
and international compliance with them.
- Work with stakeholders to
create an integrated regulatory framework for coastal or inland
- Develop a comprehensive federal
permitting and certification process for the open-ocean aquaculture
industry in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, consistent with
the U.S. policy on non-indigenous species.
- Integrate aquaculture development
with wild stock management and environmental stewardship.
- Evaluate wild stock enhancement
through aquaculture as a method to accelerate recovery of depleted
stocks, and implement stock enhancement programs where practicable.
- Through the Joint Subcommittee
on Aquaculture, improve coordination of U.S. government aquaculture
research and assistance to tribal, state, and local governments,
For more information
Aquaculture research continues
to pay off. As a result of Sea Grant research, a small, local
soft-shell crab industry h s grown to a multi-million-dollar
investment extending from New Jersey to Florida. Working with
the fishing industry, researchers, students, and others, aquaculture
specialists have provided seed oysters and expertise to rebuild
oyster bars in the Chesapeake Bay. And in New England, many community
partnerships are underway to develop small-scale, low-impact
economic opportunities in shellfish aquaculture for local fishermen
using new information and technologies.