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Marine Aquaculture: Today's Necessity for Tomorrow's Seafood

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Aquaculture is the fastest growing segment of the global food production sector, valued at $70.3 billion in 2004. In recent years, global capture fisheries have leveled off at around 95 mmt per year, with little or no prospect of increasing yields. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (UNFAO) has concluded that increases in future seafood supplies must come from aquatic farming.

The United States (U.S.) industry has been among the fastest growing agriculture sectors. Domestic seafood from capture and culture fisheries provides about 20% of annual consumption, the balance coming from imports. Future supply will come from either increasing imports or, preferably, expanding domestic aquaculture and fisheries sources. The greatest opportunity for domestic growth is marine aquaculture, particularly placement of large and small farms in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Additional benefits can accrue if large-scale marine hatchery technology is developed, so that fingerlings can be produced for wild stock enhancement and management.

Currently, there is no permitting and leasing regime for ocean farming in the U.S. EEZ. In response to several national commissions, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce (USDOC) is spearheading a bold effort to implement long-term marine aquaculture development objectives and create an EEZ permitting and leasing mechanism. Enabling legislation, entitled the National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007, is before Congress.

Anchoring fish farms in the relatively shallow near shore and the EEZ is an exciting prospect for greater U.S. seafood self-sufficiency. However, there are many institutional, environmental and technical issues to resolve. More compelling is the prospect of developing new marine aquaculture technologies, e.g., single-point moorings, untethered cages, and integrated multi-trophic systems, to sustainably utilize the deep ocean beyond the EEZ. Successfully tackling this looming challenge will need the diverse expertise of the U.S. marine technology industry.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-09-01

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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