NOAA recently announced its new aquaculture initiative. According to the agency, the plan is intended to help meet our country’s growing demand for seafood, while creating jobs and restoring healthy ecosystems.
The agency’s Aquaculture Technology Transfer Initiative will foster public-private partnerships on regional projects that showcase innovative sustainable practices, jump start private sector investments, and create employment opportunities in coastal communities.
In June, the Department of Commerce and NOAA released national policies that support sustainable marine aquaculture in the United States. Americans import about 84 percent of their seafood, half of which is from aquaculture. The U.S. trade deficit in seafood currently exceeds $10 billion and continues to grow.
As part of this initiative, NOAA will work with partners in the private sector, academia, government and communities to advance technology, monitor performance indicators, and showcase best practices and market-based standards. The initiative will be implemented with the active involvement of NOAA’s regional offices and science centers, Sea Grant Extension, and other federal, state, local and non-governmental partners.
The domestic aquaculture industry, both freshwater and marine, currently supplies about five percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. The cultivation of shellfish, such as oysters, clams, and mussels, comprises about two-thirds of U.S. marine aquaculture.
Salmon and shrimp aquaculture contribute about 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Current production takes place mainly on land, in ponds, and in coastal state waters.