Dr. Bill Walton with the Auburn University Shellfish Laboratory checks the growth of oysters in off-bottom culture systems
What is Marine Aquaculture?
Marine aquaculture refers to the culturing (i.e., “farming”) of species that live in the ocean. In the U.S., marine aquaculture primarily produces oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, and salmon as well as lesser amounts of cod, moi, yellowtail, barramundi, seabass, and seabream.
Marine aquaculture can take place in the ocean (that is, in cages, on the seafloor, or suspended in the water column) or in on-land, manmade systems such as ponds or tanks. Recirculating aquaculture systems that reduce, reuse, and recycle water and waste can support some marine species.
In the southeast, researchers are focusing on production techniques for tripletail, a warm water marine species.
NOAA’s role in Marine Aquaculture
In the southeast region, (Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), marine aquaculture focuses on stock enhancement (i.e., the release of juvenile fishs to supplement wild populations), food production, research, and restoration efforts. Species cultured in the region include oysters, clams, shrimp, red drum, almaco jack, spotted seatrout, summer flounder, snook, pompano, black seabass, and algae.
Most culture occurs on land in tanks or ponds as well as in coastal areas or state waters. NOAA Fisheries also issues permits for aquacultured live rock (the growth of corals and sponges for sale in the aquarium trade) in federal waters off the Gulf and South Atlantic coasts of Florida.
NOAA Fisheries also issues a Gulf Aquaculture Permit for marine finfish cage operations in federal waters off the Gulf of Mexico.
Applications for both of these permits can be found on the NOAA Fisheries Southeast website.
Jess Beck-Stimpert is NOAA’s Southeast Regional Aquaculture Coordinator. For more information, contact Jess at (727) 551-5755 or firstname.lastname@example.org.