What We Do
Marine aquaculture enhances coastal resiliency, creates jobs, improves food security and human nutrition and is a valuable tool to help rebuild some protected species and habitats. Limits to wild fisheries, environmental changes, the nutritional benefits of seafood, and trends in global seafood markets underscore the need to increase U.S. marine aquaculture production.
Our marine aquaculture vision and mission advance those of NOAA and support NOAA Fisheries’ priorities. Central to our aquaculture mission is ensuring that U.S. marine aquaculture grows sustainably. We define sustainable aquaculture to encompass the “triple bottom line” of environmental, economic, and social sustainability. Marine aquaculture is part of the agency’s strategy for economic and environmental resiliency in coastal communities and supporting healthy oceans.
Marine aquaculture operations provide a year-round source of high-quality jobs and economic opportunities in coastal communities that augment seasonal tourism and commercial fishing. Marine aquaculture is also a resource-efficient method of increasing and diversifying U.S. seafood production that can expand and stabilize U.S. seafood supply in the face of environmental change and economic uncertainty. Some marine aquaculture, such as shellfish and seaweed aquaculture, provides environmental benefits by removing excess nutrients from our waterways. Aquaculture is also used for species and habitat restoration, and is part of a strategy to recover NOAA priority species.
David O'Brien is the Acting Director of the NOAA Fisheries Office of Aquaculture. David joined the office in 2006 where he served initially as Program Coordinator and later as International Coordinator. Since 2012 he has been the Deputy Director. O'Brien started his career at NOAA in 2000 as a John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow and served for six years within the NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources implementing listing and recovery provisions of the Endangered Species Act.
As the lead veterinarian for the Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspection, Dr. Whaley provides expertise and guidance on a variety of aquaculture health and seafood safety issues and policy. She is currently in a NOAA leadership program and the acting deputy of the NOAA Fisheries Office of Aquaculture overseeing the office’s activities in support of U.S. aquaculture. Dr. Whaley earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Florida and a Bachelor’s in marine science from Florida Southern College.