Did you know? Ninety percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported. In an effort to increase domestic seafood production, NOAA recently announced that they will begin to grant permits for fish farming in the federal waters off the Gulf of Mexico—an area stretching 4.4 million square miles. The plan allows for up to 20 fish farms to receive ten year permits, which could potentially harvest as many as 64 million pounds of fish per year!
Fish farming, also known as aquaculture, refers to the farming (both marine and freshwater) of fish, shellfish and plants. Much like its terrestrial equal, this industrial process includes breeding, rearing and harvesting. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, nearly half of the world’s consumption of seafood comes from aquaculture. Currently, the United States ranks 15th in global production.
The National Aquarium is cautiously optimistic as NOAA moves forward with this groundbreaking rule. We fully support aquaculture when it is practiced responsibly and takes into consideration biological and environmental factors while instilling best management practices. The efforts NOAA and other key organizations such as the Aquaculture Stewardship Council and the Global Aquaculture Alliance have helped to establish high standards in the practice of aquaculture.
When combined with traditional commercial harvesting methods, aquaculture is an important tool in the effort to ensure food security for our nation’s growing population. The National Aquarium is encouraged by the steps NOAA is taking to ensure the health and harvest of our fisheries.