What is Aquaculture?


Aquaculture – often referred to as fish farming or shellfish farming – is the art, science, and business of cultivating aquatic animals in fresh or marine waters for consumption and to supplement commercial and recreational fisheries. About 70 percent of the aquaculture in the U.S. is fresh water farming of catfish and trout. Marine aquaculture is just 20 percent of the entire U.S. industry. Most marine aquaculture is shellfish farming, such as oysters, clams, and mussels. Only a few U.S. farms grow marine finfish, including salmon, cod, cobia, Hawaiian yellowtail, and Pacific threadfin (moi).  

Similar to farms on land, fish and shellfish farms come in various sizes and types – from small, family-owned commercial farms to large companies. Local, state and federal agencies, research institutions, and tribes run aquaculture facilities that produce the eggs used to farm many freshwater and marine species.

Currently, more than 80 percent of the seafood Americans eat is imported, and half of that comes from aquaculture. It is vital that the United States further develop its own sustainable aquaculture industry, both to reduce its annual $9 billion seafood import deficit and to keep pace with the growing demand for seafood.

NOAA’s Aquaculture Program is dedicated to fostering safe, sustainable aquaculture in collaboration with other NOAA offices including NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and NOAA’s National Ocean Service.

This month’s expert: 
Kevin Amos, NOAA Aquaculture Program

To ask NOAA a question or view past questions,
please visit Answers@NOAA.