Seafood, both wild and raised through aquaculture, is vital to our communities, economy, and planet. Aquaculture is an important way to produce healthy seafood, and while sustainable aquaculture practices have greatly improved over the years, much of the conversation around aquaculture has not caught up to the science.
Well-managed aquaculture, in both coastal and offshore environments, is now by far one of the most environmentally sustainable and efficient forms of food production, requiring less freshwater and producing less pollution and greenhouse gasses than most other farming methods. The industry is supported and informed by the latest science, technology, and best practices.
As the U.S. aquaculture industry continues to expand, we have the opportunity to build a sector that reflects the public we serve, while improving access to cost effective sustainable seafood, better community health, and enhanced climate resilience. An important building block in aquaculture expansion is NOAA’s science-based planning process to identify Aquaculture Opportunity Areas, noted in a recent letter.
Aquaculture Opportunity Areas are not proposed fish farms, but instead represent small areas (500 to 2,000 acres) that may be suitable for commercial aquaculture. Aquaculture Opportunity Areas provide an opportunity for proactive stewardship and will help to encourage the sustainable growth of aquaculture by siting future projects in ways that minimize impacts to natural resources while maximizing public input in the process.
As the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of aquaculture evolve, NOAA continues to work with the aquaculture community to listen, learn, and achieve meaningful and sustainable outcomes together.