Coastal Issues | Aquaculture


Oahu, HI

Onshore aquaculture ponds, adjacent to the ocean, on Oahu, HI.

Many types of aquatic organisms can be reared in a controlled or selected aquatic environment such as finfish, shellfish, and algae. Aquaculture is often conducted in coastal environments and operations can be located on land with a nearby water source or in bays, estuaries, or marine waters. When reared in marine waters, the term mariculture is often used instead of aquaculture.

Many types of organizations conduct aquaculture operations including small local operators, large seafood corporations, research institutions, and state and federal agencies.

Puget Sound, WA

Commercial salmon net pens adjacent to ferry boat transportation lane in Puget Sound, WA.

Aquaculture produces seafood for the market, ornamentals for aquariums, and even products for the pharmaceutical industry. Some public agencies raise fish to stock popular fishing areas or for research purposes. Many types of aquaculture are dependent upon the physical, social and/or economic requirements of coastal environments, such as water temperature, salinity, protected coves, ability to lease public submerged lands and waters, and access to markets.

Aquaculture has become one of the world's fastest growing food industries due to population growth, changing consumer demands and preferences, technological advancements, and the depletion of wild fish stocks.

sumberged lands zoning map

Zoning map of submerged lands dedicated to shellfish aquaculture in Cedar Keys, FL.

In Hawaii, the value of aquaculture products produced has increase from $13 million in 1995 to $28 million in 2003. Aquaculture operations help meet consumer demand for seafood and generate jobs and income. As with many new growing industries, new issues and conflicts can develop. Aquaculture operations can have negative impacts on coastal resources and existing businesses. For example, exotic species that compete with native species for food and habitat may be introduced. High concentrations of fish within pens can also create pollution problems due to the build-up of waste and uneaten food. In addition, aquaculture enterprises can have financial impacts on long-established commercial fisherman. To better manage possible impacts from this growing industry, coastal managers can address the siting and management of aquaculture in a comprehensive manner. For example:


NOAA Aquaculture — Provides information on NOAA’s aquaculture program.

NOAA Library — The NOAA Library Aquaculture Information Center is a resource for articles and information on aquaculture.