Offshore Aquaculture

Business

BY AARON WELCH, PH.D SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY FEB 1, 2020

Offshore aquaculture, the process of cultivating fish, shellfish and seaweed in an artificial environment, is an environmentally sound opportunity for the U.S. to increase production of healthy seafood through sustainable, science-based methods here in Florida and across the country. Claims that pollution, red tide and disruptions to the marine ecosystem will result from offshore aquaculture operations in the Gulf are unfounded (Fish Farming in the Gulf?, Jan. 25). 

A University of Miami study conducted in 2019 demonstrated that there are minimal environmental impacts to surrounding waters from properly sited offshore fish-farming operations. The results of the study are supported by similar research projects that have been conducted in other countries, including in the eastern Mediterranean.

When done responsibly with careful management techniques, offshore aquaculture in our open oceans is an environmentally responsible way to increase seafood production, strengthen the seafood industry and support coastal economies; all while supplying our community with healthy local-raised fish in our restaurants, stores and markets. The U.S. imports 90% of the seafood we consume.

American aquaculture meets only 5-7% of our current demand for seafood. With global demand expected to increase by 70% over the next 30 years, offshore aquaculture will complement wild fish harvesting to meet rising demand for healthy protein sources. Offshore aquaculture is an environmentally-friendly and resource-efficient way to produce more seafood, providing Floridan families with greater fish options, protecting our precious natural resources and boosting our economy.

Dr. Aaron Welch is an aquaculture industry professional and an Adjunct Professor at University of Miami. 

Read more about the 2019 study conducted by the University of Miami

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