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New Federal Research Plan Highlights NOAA's Critical Role in the Future of Aquaculture

A Message from Eileen Sobeck, Head of NOAA Fisheries
June 17, 2014

I am pleased to announce that the White Houses' Office of Science and Technology Policy has released its National Strategic Plan for Federal Aquaculture Research which includes a clear role for NOAA in advancing aquaculture research.  This plan also represents an important milestone in efforts to support economically and environmentally sustainable marine aquaculture. Over the past 30 years, we have learned a lot about how to manage aquaculture sustainably.  The practices and technologies available today are significantly improved over what was available during the industry's early years.  As the domestic industry develops further, we will need to continue to make improvements in large part through advances in science and technology development. This research plan provides a road map for NOAA, our federal partners, our academic research partners, and our stakeholders to effectively coordinate, collaborate, and prioritize aquaculture-related research and development activities.

Shellfish, seaweed, and finfish farming is a steady source of safe, nutritious, sustainable seafood for consumers in the United States and worldwide.  Farmed seafood products already make up half of the world's seafood supply and that percentage is predicted to grow as demand continues to rise.  But U.S. production lags behind much of the world, resulting in the import of more and more seafood from overseas and ever-increasing prices. Today, the U.S. imports over 90 percent of its seafood so, even as our wild harvest fisheries rebuild, we cannot meet the increasing domestic demand for seafood alone though wild-caught fisheries.

U.S. aquaculture will continue to expand as a complement to wild fisheries and, with it, we will see additional economic opportunities for our working waterfronts and seafood communities. The ongoing success of aquaculture-related business and research will also allow us to take better advantage of new trade opportunities and partnerships.

Aquaculture represents a big part of the future of our seafood supply and this plan will help ensure we work together to make it a bright one. Visit our website to learn more about NOAA’s efforts to further important aquaculture research and technology development and in support of habitat and restoration and stock enhancement.

Eileen Sobeck
Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries