Aquaculture is loosely defined as the production of hatchery fish and shellfish which can be grown to market size. They can be raised in tanks, ponds, or other natural habitat. The species that is raised can be used to stock fresh water for fish, for release into the wild or for human consumption. Aquaculture can help support commercial and recreational marine fisheries, and rebuild wild stock populations or coastal habitats such as oyster reefs.
Aquaculture also includes the production of ornamental fish for the aquarium trade and plant species used in a range of food, pharmaceutical, nutritional, and biotechnology products. There are also related industries such as equipment production, feed, and nutrition companies, and aquaculture consulting service firms that provide support to the global aquaculture industry.
U.S. Marine Aquaculture
The U.S. marine aquaculture industry is relatively small compared with overall U.S. and world aquaculture production. The largest species of the industry are molluscan shellfish, consisting of oysters, clams and mussels. This makes up about 67 percent total U.S. production. Next are salmon, about 25 percent and shrimp, about 10 percent.
Aquaculture has the potential to reduce the nation's dependence on imports. Right now, the United States is a major consumer of aquaculture products, importing 84 % of our seafood, half of which originates from aquaculture. Markedly, U.S. aquaculture production for both freshwater and marine fisheries is estimated by NOAA to be about 5% of the U.S. seafood supply.Many countries are heavily investing their resources into aquaculture. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization State of World Aquaculture 2006 report, the United States is not even in the top ten countries for total aquaculture production. That explains the Department of Commerce's support for aquaculture.
Here are the top to aquaculture producers in the world: