More than half of the global seafood supply comes from aquaculture, or fish farming. Learn more about its increasingly important role in the global food supply.
What is marine aquaculture?
Marine aquaculture, mariculture for short, is the farming of marine organisms (fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and aquatic plants). Marine aquaculture can take place in the ocean (in cages, on the seafloor, or suspended in the water column) or on land in manmade systems, such as ponds or tanks.
Aquaculture is not new. It has been practiced in some parts of the world for thousands of years. The application of modern technology to marine aquaculture is relatively new, but is successfully practiced around the world. Here in the U.S. we farm a variety of marine species, including mussels, oysters, clams, abalone, seaweed, and salmon.
Seafood is the primary source of protein for more than 3 billion people on the planet and is widely recognized as contributing to a healthy diet. A desire for seafood, coupled with growing and more affluent global populations, has created a dramatic increase in seafood demand. Wild-capture fishery harvests have remained essentially flat since the late 1980s and have been unable to satisfy growing demand. Since then, seafood consumption has roughly doubled, due largely to increasing production of farmed fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants. As it has for the past 25 years, aquaculture will play a substantial role in meeting society’s need for increasing food supplies into the future.