Preparing for Sustainable Offshore Aquaculture
The Sustainable Open-Ocean Aquaculture Working Group will examine specific dimensions of aquaculture — focusing our efforts on offshore farming and providing insight into an expanding industry by developing recommendations for further scientific investigation, management, and communication based on::
1. A review of the real and perceived risks of open-ocean aquaculture relative to the near-shore approaches. The Working Group will review both grey literature and peer-reviewed articles, as well as interview industry representatives, and ecologists who have expertise in geographies where aquaculture operations are either already well-established and/or are rapidly expanding. Drawing upon the array of concerns and impacts that have already been measured in a near-shore context, the Working Group will disentangle actual offshore impacts, concerns, and possible improvements that will help clarify the potential of open-ocean aquaculture.
2. An analysis of the marine aquaculture opportunities for expanding open-ocean aquaculture with an emphasis on approaches that target the most favorable options for jointly meeting economic and ecological needs. The Working Group — which includes conservation scientists with expertise in ocean health, aquaculture economist, and NOAA experts who contributed to the National Strategic Plan for Federal Aquaculture — will identify and map areas with greatest opportunity (‘hot spots’) for “smart aquaculture” with high potential aquaculture productivity, and minimal conflict with biodiversity and critical ecosystem services.
3. Equally important is avoiding areas most at risk and/or least viable for open-ocean farming expansion. As such, the Working Group will also analyze areas that should be avoided given a series of important ecological, social and economic considerations (‘cold spots’).
4. Looking towards an expansion of sustainable open-ocean aquaculture requires an assessment of the needs and conflicts of ocean farming now and into the future. The people best suited for such an evaluation are the operators invested in the aquaculture industry – a perspective almost completely missing from the scientific literature. Using surveys and coordinating an in-person panel, the Working Group intends to investigate and work with industry leaders to uncover the largest barriers, issues, and benefits of aquaculture.
Meet the Team