View of harvest at an oyster farming operation in Brittany. Results of a global spatial analysis identifies opportunities for shellfish and seaweed aquaculture. Alan Hughes /

World - Identifying Global Opportunities for Shellfish, Seaweed Aquaculture

Spatial analysis shows where marine aquaculture can benefit nature and people

When managed within a broader ecosystem framework and strategy, aquaculture has the potential to enhance ecosystems and provide increased benefits to humanity, with values potentially returned through a wide range of regulating, provisioning, habitat, and cultural ecosystem services.

Aquaculture includes a diversity of activities and objectives, including ‘industrial’-scale food production, specialized operations focused on environmental outcomes or multi-species production for broader benefits, and native species restoration. By actively designing aquaculture to deliver ecosystem services, it may be possible to achieve greater positive impact on ecological, economic and social needs through enhanced habitat restoration, increased employment and increased food security, respectively.

This article – adapted and summarized from the original publication – reports on a study that conducted a global-scale spatial analysis incorporating a broad suite of global datasets representing key environmental, socioeconomic and human health considerations. The study developed a novel, quantitative global index – the Restorative Aquaculture Opportunity Index, or RAOI – to aid in identification of marine ecoregions with substantial opportunity to benefit from ecosystem services provided by development of restorative shellfish and seaweed aquaculture (hereafter referred to as High Opportunity Marine Ecoregions, or HOMEs.

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