Southeast
Almaco jack (Seriola rivoliana) is in the same family as yellowtail and is prized by chefs. The species is marked by a dark blue-green upper body with a lavender-tinted belly and elongated fins. Credit: Blue Ocean Mariculture.

FL - Aquaculture benefits Florida and our oceans

Florida should be the leader in this new blue economy that will help feed the world.

Offshore aquaculture should not be developed in Florida without rigorously responsible management plans. These should be woven together with science-based technologies to help ensure environmental sustainability to minimize potentially negative impacts to our treasured ocean and coastal ecosystems. The great news is that the bipartisan Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act in Congress, coupled with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s new Aquaculture Opportunity Area Atlas for the Gulf of Mexico, provide the foundation for such a plan. It includes three locations in Florida.

Over 90 percent of the seafood consumed in this country is imported, and more than half of that seafood is from foreign aquaculture, with China being the global leader. Few of these countries adhere to the same standards of animal care and quality control as in the United States.

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Read also

The battle over fish farming in the open ocean heats up, as EPA OKs permit, Timothy Fanning, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Oct. 2, 2020

Tide to Table Profiles: Blue Ocean Mariculture, NOAA Fisheries

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The U.S. seafood trade deficit is over $14 billion annually, and our aquaculture represents less than 0.5 percent of global output. Wild fisheries capture production data is telling us the oceans around the world have been overfished and can no longer support the protein demands of growing human populations. The exposure of the U.S. seafood supply to natural and geopolitical disruptions is increasingly becoming a food security issue for our nation. Because seafood tends to offer the most efficient feed conversion ratio, increasing food sustainability and reducing carbon footprints implies that seafood consumption per capita will likely continue.

The global urgency for evolving from the environmentally detrimental marine aquaculture practices of past decades to advanced technologies for environmentally friendly offshore aquaculture is readily apparent. A handful of U.S. research institutions, such as the independent non-profit Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, have been dedicated to the development and transfer of science-based technology for environmentally sustainable seafood production. This helps decrease pressure on current wild-caught fisheries and has positive impacts for both our oceans and our economy. There are numerous peer-reviewed scientific articles that support the development of environmentally sustainable marine aquaculture industry to provide high quality protein to feed the world’s growing population.

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