Newswise — The worldwide demand for seafood continues to grow, yet U.S. marine aquaculture (fish farming) produces far less seafood than aquaculture in Asia, Europe, Canada, Central and South America. More than 91 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported.
Now, a new federal rule is poised to help the U.S. decrease that deficit by farm-raising more sustainable, domestic seafood in the Gulf of Mexico. On Jan. 11, 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the publication of a groundbreaking rule implementing the Fishery Management Plan for Aquaculture in Federal Waters of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf Aquaculture Plan). The rule is a major step forward because it allows for large-scale fish farming in offshore, federal waters of the Gulf — beyond state waters where U.S. aquaculture has historically remained.
Dr. Kevan Main is available for interviews Wednesday through Friday, Jan. 27-29.
Dr. Kevan Main is a senior scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory, an independent marine research institution in Sarasota, Fla. She is also Past President of the World Aquaculture Society. She has led Mote’s aquaculture research efforts since 2001, guiding the development of Mote’s inland, re-circulating aquaculture systems that raise marine fish and while recycling 100 percent of the salt water and using fish wastes to fertilize salt-loving plants.
Why speak with Dr. Main:
• With the new opportunity to farm fish in offshore waters of the Gulf, the technology exists to produce some of the suitable fishes, including red drum (redfish), cobia, mahi-mahi and certain snapper species. However, research must be conducted to develop and improve hatchery technologies for grouper, red snapper and amberjack.
• Over the past 15 years, Mote’s aquaculture scientists have been conducting research to develop innovative and sustainable technologies for raising red drum, Florida pompano, greater amberjack, common snook and red snapper to support enhancement of wild stocks and to produce juvenile fish for both land-based recirculating and offshore cage farms.
• Mote scientists are interested in the new NOAA rule especially because it requires offshore operations to obtain a federal permit, which has several requirements geared toward supporting sustainability. The permit requires culture of marine fishes native to the Gulf, ongoing monitoring and reporting of water quality conditions and monitoring potential impacts of offshore cage farming on protected species.
Quote from Dr. Main:
• “Offshore farms have the potential to generate significant quantities of marine fish to meet the growing demand for high-quality, domestically farmed seafood. To help this happen, much more work is needed to develop hatchery production technologies for Gulf marine fishes. At Mote, we are excited to advance the science and technology that will help environmentally sustainable aquaculture feed our growing population.”