News & Events

Reflecting on the Impacts of Aquaculture During National Seafood Month

Oct 23, 2018

National Seafood Month is an annual designation observed each October. This designation—originally created by congress decades ago—provides an opportunity for our industry to celebrate seafood and all of its numerous benefits to our health and economy.

Whether wild or farmed, seafood is a staple for many across the world. Globally, fish provides more than 3.1 billion people with almost 20 percent of their average per capita intake of animal protein, and 4.3 billion people with 15 percent of such protein. However, natural fisheries stocks throughout the world, including the U.S., are threatened by overfishing and statistics show that total production from capture fisheries worldwide may have reached maximal yield in 1996. FAO projects that in order to maintain the current level of per capita utilization, global aquaculture production will need to reach 80 million tons by 2050.

The U.S. aquaculture industry has grown steadily over the past decade, with nationwide production in 2016 reaching 444,369 tons. Comparatively, the top aquaculture producer in the world, China, generated 62.86 million tons (57.6 percent) of world aquaculture production of fish, crustaceans, mollusks and plants in 2016. Imports continue to supplement the seafood supply to U.S. consumers. According to NOAA Fisheries Fishery Statistics No. 2016-2, the U.S. seafood trade deficit surpassed the $10 billion mark for the first time in 2010 and reached $14.1 billion in 2016.

These statistics clearly support the suggestion made by the U.S. Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture that further development of the U.S. aquaculture industry is in the national interest. Furthermore, as our world continues to change and the population increases, food safety, nutrition, environmental stewardship, and food security are becoming topics of great concern for Americans. A genuine interest in establishing a consistent, safe food supply with minimal environmental impact has emerged among the general public, and has been declared a priority by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Further development of sustainable domestic aquaculture production will improve the ability of our industry to supply American consumers with high-quality, safe, environmentally friendly, and affordable U.S. fish and shellfish.

In celebration of this year’s National Seafood Month, NOAA Fisheries has been highlighting the success stories behind U.S. seafood and the U.S. fishermen and fish farmers who make it possible. Click here to read more.