Aquaculture, or fish farming, has gained momentum in the United States as a viable method to produce seafood over the last decade. According to some experts, increasing demand for fresh fish has put a strain on natural populations. Aquaculture, the cultivation of marine fish and shellfish, is gaining popularity in meeting this demand.
Sustainability: Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing food production sectors in the world. More importantly, it is a fundamental element in the global solution to provide a sustainable seafood source. The addition of aquaculture to help satisfy fish demand helps natural stock population and growth, lessening the strain on stressed fisheries.
Consistency: Natural fisheries have limitations on how many fish can be caught, and are only available during certain months of the year. As an alternative, aquaculture can provide large and consistent quantities of fish and seafood.
Demand: The addition of aquacultural stocks such as salmon and oysters into the marketplace helps meet current seafood demands.
Economy: Aquaculture plays an important role in the economy, providing thousands of jobs in operations and ancillary services. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, a non-profit environmental organization, global fisheries exports now earn more revenue than any other traded food commodity in the world, including rice, cocoa or coffee.
Environment: Recent studies conducted by NOAA indicate aquaculture poses a low risk to the environment. Impacts are typically local and temporary. In some cases, aquaculture can benefit the environment. In cases where filter feeding shellfish, such as oysters, are cultured in-situ, water quality in ponds and lakes can improve.
Although there are documented problems associated with aquaculture, governmental agencies believe it is a long-range and sustainable solution to the world's wild marine fish populations.