- Aquaculture is the cultivation of animals and plants in water, which could include oceans, rivers, lakes and other water environments.
- Globally, aquaculture is “the world’s fastest growing food producing sector” (United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 2014).
- Fish and shellfish produced from aquaculture account for half of all seafood consumed by humans (FAO, 2010).
- Fish from aquaculture are very similar in quality to fish from wild fisheries. They are safe to eat, highly nutritious and readily available.
- Fish and invertebrates from aquaculture include Atlantic salmon, tilapia, catfish and rainbow trout, as well as shrimp, oysters, clams and mussels.
- Aquaculture is also used for replenishment programs for species including salmon, red drum, striped bass, flounder, abalone and white seabass.
GLOBAL AQUACULTURE FACTS
- Seafood is our most important single source of high-quality protein, currently providing 16 per- cent of all animal protein in the human diet (FAO 2014).
- Fish is the only important food source that is still primarily gathered from the wild rather than primarily farmed.
- From 1992 to 2001, total seafood supply increased by 29.4 percent, while supply from wild capture fisheries increased by only 8.3 percent (FAO, 2003). The difference (21.1 percent) came from aquaculture.
- Worldwide, in 2012 more than 58.3 million people were employed in the interrelated fishing and aquaculture industries (FAO, 2014).
AQUACULTURE IN CALIFORNIA
- California’s aquaculture industry is among the most diverse in the nation, varying from small, family-run operations to large, sophisticated, research-and- production facilities.
- Catfish, striped bass, tilapia, trout, white sturgeon and algae are among the most common species produced in California. No marine finfish are commercially produced.
- California’s aquaculture facilities are all in coastal marine waters, on land or in fresh water. There is one mussel farm located offshore of Santa Barbara.
AQUACULTURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT
- The aquaculture industry will succeed by pioneering ecologically sound practices and managing resources sustainably.
- Properly managed aquaculture can generate significant economic and social benefits with little or no environmental impact. Some impacts, such as increased reef habitat, can be highly beneficial.
- Responsible aquaculture development will require regulatory agencies, resource users and scientists to work in concert to ensure that all environmental, logistical, legal and sociopolitical considerations are addressed.
- The more pristine the environment, the higher the quality and the more healthy the product.
- The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that Americans double their current consumption of seafood (U.S. Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services).
- Because all the world’s wild fisheries, including U.S. fisheries, are at or near capacity, meeting demand will require sustainable harvests from fisheries and increased production from aquaculture, either domestic or imported.
- In the short term, most of the increased U.S. supply is likely to be imported because we cannot increase supply from our fisheries and domestic aquaculture is relatively undeveloped.
- The U.S. has over 100,000 square kilometers (38,610 square miles) of federal waters that has suitable depth and currents to support offshore aquaculture farms (FAO 2013).
- Only 5 percent of domestically consumed seafood is supplied by U.S. aquaculture (NOAA Fisheries 2010).
- In the U.S. 75,000 to 100,000 direct and indirect jobs can be created with every 1 million metric tons produced from commercial aquaculture (NOAA 2008).
Next page: Domestic and Local Aquaculture Imperative