Marine aquaculture (or farmed seafood) is vital for supporting our nation’s seafood production, year-round jobs, rebuilding protected species and habitats, and enhancing coastal resilience. Aquaculture—the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of animals and plants in all types of water environments—is one of the most resource-efficient ways to produce protein and has helped improve nutrition and food security in many parts of the world.
Globally, aquaculture supplies more that 50 percent of all seafood produced for human consumption—and that percentage will continue to rise.
At NOAA Fisheries, we support cutting-edge science and research as well as federal policy making and regulation to grow sustainable aquaculture in the United States and reap its social, economic, and environmental benefits while supporting commercial and recreational fisheries. We foster responsible aquaculture that provides safe, sustainable seafood; creates employment and business opportunities in coastal communities; and complements NOAA’s comprehensive strategy for maintaining healthy and productive marine populations, ecosystems, and vibrant coastal communities.
The United States produced $1.3 billion worth of aquaculture seafood in 2014. The top U.S. marine aquaculture species were oysters ($169 million), clams ($121 million), and Atlantic salmon ($76 million).
The value of U.S. aquaculture production equals about 20% of the value of total U.S. seafood production.
The United States imports about 80% of its seafood, and nearly 50% of the imported seafood is produced via aquaculture.
Our oceans cover over 70% of the Earth’s surface, but currently account for only 2% of human food. With limited arable land and freshwater, the world is turning to the oceans for additional food supply as global population is projected to increase to 9 billion by the year 2050.
We are working hard to foster the growth of aquaculture in the United States not only to help meet U.S. seafood demand, but also to help encourage job growth. We are involved in a variety of aquaculture activities around the country and offer assistance through our regional aquaculture coordinators.
Learn more about U.S. aquaculture
Fisheries and aquaculture remain important sources of food, nutrition, income and livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people around the world. World per capita fish supply reached a new record high of 20 kg in 2014, thanks to vigorous growth in aquaculture, which now provides half of all fish for human consumption, and to a slight improvement in the state of certain fish stocks due to improved fisheries management.
Learn more about global aquaculture
Shellfish farming and restoration is critical to get more oysters, clams, and mussels in the water for food, jobs, and ecosystem services. We are working with partners to address environmental research, spatial planning, permitting, restoration, and farming techniques for shellfish aquaculture.
Learn more about the National Shellfish Initiative
Learn more about best management practices, standards, and certification programs
Find shellfish aquaculture contacts in your area
In the United States, aquaculture technologies and management practices have continued to evolve through lessons-learned as well as through significant public and private research focused on bringing greater efficiency, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness to aquaculture. A variety of techniques and technologies – each with its own advantages and disadvantages – can be used to raise finfish.
Learn more about finfish aquaculture
Learn more about finfish health
There are a number of financial assistance programs that support sustainable aquaculture in the United States. Funding can address a variety of issues such as environmental monitoring, recirculating aquaculture systems, shellfish farming, alternative feeds, new species research, and offshore aquaculture.
Learn more about related funding opportunities
The United States has a small and vibrant commercial marine aquaculture industry supported by world class research and technology.