Fish Farming to Expand in U.S.

Written by on January 25, 2016 in Fish, Policy & Ocean Law
View from inside a Hawaii offshore aquaculture cage. Photo credit: NOAA.

View from inside a Hawaii offshore aquaculture cage. Photo credit: NOAA.

Earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a final rule implementing the “first regional regulatory program for offshore aquaculture” in U.S. federal waters.

This will expand aquaculture (fish farming) opportunities in the open ocean in an effort to meet the growing demand for seafood. The new rule authorizes NOAA Fisheries to issue permits for 10-year periods for the farming of several species in the Gulf of Mexico.

“As demand for seafood continues to rise, aquaculture presents a tremendous opportunity not only to meet this demand, but also to increase opportunities for the seafood industry and job creation,” NOAA administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan said in a news release. “Expanding U.S. aquaculture in federal waters complements wild harvest fisheries and supports our efforts to maintain sustainable fisheries and resilient oceans.”

Cobia swimming in cage.

Cobia swimming in cage. Photo credit: NOAA.

Traditionally, aquaculture in the U.S. has been based on oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, and salmon and currently accounts for only about 20% of the value of U.S. fishery landings. New collaborations and new technology have improved the practice of aquaculture to allow for more species to be farmed. Species that can now be farmed in the Gulf will include red drum, cobia, and almaco jack.

“This is all about managing and expanding seafood farming in an environmentally sound and economically sustainable way,” said Michael Rubino, of NOAA Fisheries Office of Aquaculture. “The permit process we’ve laid out accounts for the region’s unique needs and opens the door for other regions to follow suit.”

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Copyright © 2016 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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  1. Meagan says:

    Seafood eating is on a rise since the world is on a health food rise. This expansion will help keep the costs down. Have to love the laws of supply and demand!