Current Status of Aquaculture in
North America

Paul G. Olin1

University of California Sea Grant Extension, 2604 Ventura Avenue,
Santa Rosa, CA 95403, USA

Olin, P.G. 2001. Current status of aquaculture in North America. In R.P. Subasinghe, P. Bueno, M.J. Phillips, C. Hough, S.E. McGladdery & J.R. Arthur, eds. Aquaculture in the Third Millennium. Technical Proceedings of the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium, Bangkok, Thailand, 20-25 February 2000. pp. 377-396. NACA, Bangkok and FAO, Rome.

ABSTRACT: World aquaculture production has increased at a rate of 9 percent per year since 1984, and in North America, production during this time increased at an APR [Average Percent Rate) of 3.6, comparable to that in Europe (3.9) and Asian countries [excluding China] (4.4). Aquaculture production in North America2 has shown strong growth between 1988 and 1997, increasing from 379 000 mt to 521 000 mt, representing a 38 percent increase, at an APR of 4.0. The value of aquaculture products rose even more dramatically from US$620 million in 1988 to US$1.1 billion in 1997, at an APR of 6.5 for an increase of 80 percent.

The United States dominated regional production with 438 000 mt in 1997, valued at US$771 million, while Canadian production of 83 000 mt earned US$322 million. The higher relative earnings for Canadian production reflect the dominance of Atlantic salmon, while channel catfish is the principal species cultured in the United States. In North America, the value of farmed salmon increased from US$82 million in 1988 to US$371 million in 1997, an APR of 18.3. Channel catfish production in the United States increased from 164 000 mt in 1988 to 238 000 mt in 1997, a 45 percent gain at an APR of 4.2. Production of other finfish species includes trout, sturgeon, striped bass, golden shiners and tilapia. Shellfish cultured in the region include American and Pacific cupped oysters, blue mussels, clams, crayfish and shrimp.

Production from inland freshwater systems rose from 233 000 mt in 1988 to 315 000 mt in 1997, at an APR of 3.4, while marine production increased from 45 000 mt to 209 000 mt at an APR of 4.0 during the same period. While aquaculture is rapidly expanding in North America, on a global scale the region was responsible for only 1.4 percent of total production in 1997.

In both Canada and the United States, there is strong institutional support for aquaculture and government commitments to foster industry expansion. In the United States, for example, the Department of Commerce recently established an aquaculture policy to promote the development of a highly competitive and sustainable aquaculture industry. The objectives of this 1999 policy include forecast increases in production value from the current US$900 million to US$5 billion by the year 2025, and an increase in aquaculture employment from 180 000 to 600 000 people. This is driven by the United States’ need to meet increasing seafood demands and help offset the US$6 billion annual trade deficit in edible seafood products.

Competing demands on natural resources, access to fresh water and restrictions on effluent discharge are issues the industry must address in order to continue expanding into the next millennium. This will be accomplished in part by emphasising production in offshore and intensive partially recirculating systems. With capture fisheries relatively stable at around 90 million mt/yr, it is clear that the world’s increasing requirements for seafood will be met through aquaculture.

KEY WORDS: Aquaculture, North America, Canada, United States





World aquaculture production has increased at a rate of 9 percent per year since 1984 and continues to grow as the production of primary species expands and technology develops to culture promising new species (FAO, 1995). In North America, aquaculture production since 1984 has increased at an APR [Annual Percent Rate of growth] of 3.6, comparable to that in Europe (3.9) and Asian countries [excluding China] (4.4) (Rana, 1997). In 1995, the harvest of cultured shrimp surpassed that coming from the world’s capture fisheries, and in 1997, farmed salmon exceeded that available from commercial fisheries. With capture fisheries relatively stable at around 90 million mt/yr, it is clear that the world’s increasing requirements for seafood will be met through aquaculture (FAO, 1999).

Aquaculture production in North America3 has shown strong growth between 1988 and 1997, increasing from 379 000 mt to 521 000 mt, representing a 38 percent increase, at an APR of 4.0. The value of aquaculture products rose even more dramatically, from US$620 million in 1988 to US$1.1 billion in 1997, at an APR of 6.5 for an increase of 80 percent. The United States dominated regional production of
438 000 mt in 1997, valued at US$771 million, while Canadian production of 83 000 mt earned US$322 million. The higher relative earnings for Canadian production reflect marine production of species of higher economic value, primarily Atlantic salmon.

Production from inland freshwater systems rose from 233 000 mt in 1988 to 315 000 mt in 1997, at an APR of 3.4, while marine production increased from 45 000 mt to 209 000 mt at an APR of 4.0 during the same period. While aquaculture is rapidly expanding in North America, on a global scale the region is responsible for only 1.4 percent of total production in 1997 (FAO, 2000).

  It is expected that the industry will continue to grow with strong support from both the Canadian and United States governments. The United States Department of Commerce recently established an aquaculture policy to promote the development of a highly competitive and sustainable aquaculture industry. The objectives of this 1999 policy are ambitious, and include forecast increases in production value from the current US$900 million to US$5 billion by the year 2025, and an increase in aquaculture employment from 180 000 to 600 000 people (Mieremet et al., 2000). This projected growth is based on establishing average annual increases of approximately 10 percent. Accomplishing these objectives will require significant increases in investment capital, government support and inter-agency cooperation.

The population of North America is expected to grow from 306 million in 2000 to 360 million by 2020. This would increase the annual seafood demand by 177 000 mt by the year 2010 and 360 000 mt by 2020 (Table 1). If the industry can meet the ambitious goals of the Commerce Department’s aquaculture policy, new aquaculture production will easily meet the increased demand and help to offset the
US$6 billion annual trade deficit (United States only) in edible seafood.

Finfish production

The channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, remains the dominant species to be produced in North America. Production in the United States increased from 164 000 mt in 1988 to 238 000 mt in 1997, a 45 percent gain at an APR of 4.2 (Fig. 1).

Catfish production represents 54 percent of the United States total, 75.6 percent of the North American freshwater total and 45 percent of the total North American production (Table 2).





  Catfish sales generated US$371 million in 1997, up from US$290 million in 1988 for an APR of 2.8 and comprising 33 percent of the total aquaculture revenue in North America.

Salmon aquaculture contributes significantly to North American production, salmon being reared in the Northwest Atlantic (Maine, United States) and the Canadian Maritime Provinces), as well as in the Northeastern Pacific (Washington State, United States and the Canadian Province of British Columbia). Total salmon production increased from 12 000 mt to 79 000 mt between 1988 and 1997 at an APR of 23. In North America, the value of farmed salmon increased from US$82 million in 1988 to US$371 million in 1997 at an APR of 18.3 (Fig. 2).

Production in 1997 was almost equally split between the Northwestern Atlantic, with 38 000 mt, and the Northeastern Pacific, at 41 000 mt, and consisted primarily of Atlantic salmon, with smaller numbers of chinook and coho salmon (Fig. 3). In the Northwestern Atlantic United States, growers produced 18 000 mt of Atlantic salmon in 1997, compared to 900 mt in 1988, while production in the Northeastern Pacific of Atlantic, chinook and coho salmon was low at 20, 80 and 3 mt, respectively Canadian production of Atlantic salmon rose from 3 000 to 20 000 mt in the Northwestern Atlantic at an APR of 22.2, increasing in value from US$35 million to US$102 million at an APR of 12.4.

Significant Canadian production of Atlantic salmon also occurs in the Northeastern Pacific, where production rose from 80 mt to 31 000 mt at an APR of 96.6, while value increased from US$0.84 million to US$ 154 million at an APR of 78.3. Canadian chinook production in the Pacific rose from 3 500 mt in 1988 to 4 600 mt in 1997, while coho production rose from 2 700 mt to 5 100 mt during the same period (Fig. 3).





In 1997, Canadian growers in the Atlantic Northeast produced 53 percent of the Atlantic salmon grown in the region, while United States growers in Maine produced 47 percent (Table 3). The combined North American production in the Atlantic represented 18.5 percent of all marine species produced and 7.3 percent of total North American aquaculture production. Atlantic salmon production in the Pacific accounted for 15 percent of marine production and 6 percent of all aquaculture production. Atlantic salmon production in the North American Region, therefore, accounts for one third of all marine production and 13.3 percent of the total aquaculture tonnage.

Trout farmers in North America produced 31 000 mt with a value of US$81 million in 1997 (Fig. 4), while freshwater trout production in Canada almost doubled between 1988 and 1997, going from 3 000 mt to 5 300 mt at an APR of 10, and the value increased from US$10 million to US$21 million at an APR of 8.3 (Figs. 1 & 4).

  Marine production of rainbow trout in Canada fluctuated, but is currently around 900 mt. United States freshwater production declined slightly from 27 000 mt in 1988 to 26 000 mt in 1997 for an APR of -0.4, while value declined from US$64 to US$60 million at an APR of -0.7.

The golden shiner, the cyprinid Notemigonus crysoleucas, is produced as a baitfish and is a significant industry in the southeastern United States, primarily in the state of Arkansas. Production increased from 8 500 mt in 1988 to 9 000 mt in 1997 at an APR of 0.7, while value increased from US$52 million to US$74 million at an APR of 4 (Figs. 3 & 4).

There are a number of species cultured in the United States that reached significant production levels by 1997, rising from little or no production in 1988. The culture of striped bass is one example, where production increased from 400 mt in 1988 to 3 800 mt in 1997 at an APR of 28.5. Value increased from US$1.8 million to US$22 million at an APR of 32. Tilapia production in North America also occurs primarily in the United States and increased from 20 mt in 1988 to 7 700 mt in 1997 at an APR of 57.6. The value of tilapia sales increased from US$70 000 to US$30 million. The culture of white sturgeon, Acipenser transmontanus, is expanding, with 1997 being the first year where substantial production was recorded and the harvest of 500 mt had a value to growers of US$3.6 million.

Figure 5 depicts the relative percentage contributions of the primary cultured finfish to North American production in 1997. Channel catfish and Atlantic salmon provided 40 and 34 percent of production, respectively. Rainbow trout and golden shiners follow with 9 percent and 8 percent, respectively, followed by coho salmon, chinook salmon and tilapia, all at 3 percent, and sturgeon at <1 percent.

A striking contrast exists between the production seen in 1988 and 1997, where catfish production declined from 77 percent to 40 percent of the total while Atlantic salmon rose from 2 percent to 34 percent during the time period (Figs. 5 & 6). Rainbow trout decreased by 4 percent while golden shiners increased by the same amount. Coho salmon, tilapia, sturgeon and hybrid striped bass production remained at low levels throughout the time period (Fig. 3).




Chinook salmon production was low in the specific years of 1988 and 1997, but peaked at just under 16 000 mt in 1991 (Fig. 4).   Production rose then gradually declined, as Atlantic salmon became the preferred species for marine aquaculture.





In terms of product value for 1997, catfish and salmon were comparable, representing 38 and 34 percent of total revenue, followed by rainbow trout at 9 percent and baitfish at 8 percent (Fig. 7). This differs significantly from 1988, when catfish sales generated 59 percent of total North American revenue and combined coho, chinook and Atlantic salmon sales generated only 16 percent of revenue (Fig. 8).

Invertebrate Production

The principal invertebrate products of North American aquaculture are molluscs and crustaceans. The following sections summarize these activities.



Mollusc production in North America includes a variety of species but is centred around oysters, hard clams and mussels and includes both American and Pacific cupped oysters. Based on FAO statistical data, Pacific cupped oysters, Crassostrea gigas, are grown in the Northeastern Pacific and have declined in production from 41 000 mt in 1988 to 29 000 mt in 1997, an APR of -3.6 (Fig. 9). Revenue declined at an APR of -0.5 from US$19 to US$18 million, but price increases helped to offset the impact of production drops (Fig. 10). The United States is the dominant producer, with 25 000 mt in 1997 compared to Canada’s 5 000 mt.

Growers of the American cupped oyster, C. virginica, also saw production reduce, but again, higher prices resulted in increased revenue. Production declined from 81 000 mt in 1988 to 65 000 mt in 1997, an APR of -2.4, while revenue rose from US$38 million to US$50 million, an APR of 3.2 (Figs. 9 & 10). Once again, the United States is the dominant producer, with 1997 production of 63 000 mt valued at US$47 million compared to Canadian production of 2 000 mt valued at US$3 million.

Other molluscs produced in North America include blue mussels, northern quahogs and abalone.




Blue mussel production is centred in the Northwest Atlantic, where production measured 4 000 mt in 1988, rising to 12 800 mt in 1997, while value increased from US$4.3 to US$12.5 million at APRs of 13.7 and 12.6, respectively. Canadian mussel production increased to 11 000 mt in 1997 at an APR of 21, while United States production declined during the same time to 1 300 mt with an APR of -4.0.

North American production of the northern quahog or hard clam, Mercenaria mercenaria, occurs largely in the United States, with production increasing from 3 600 mt in 1988 to 18 000 mt in 1997 at an APR of 17.4. Value rose during this time from US$6 million to US$26 million at an APR of 17.4.


  This increase occurred largely during 1996 and 1997, where production rose from 5 500 mt to 18 000 mt at an APR of 225, reflecting primarily the production of the newly established industry in Florida. Abalone culture is done primarily in the state of California, and the industry grew from 56 mt in 1988 to 265 mt in 1997, while the value rose during this time from US$1.2 to US$3.5 million. In recent years, both production and value have remained level.


The only crustacean produced significantly in North America is the red swamp crawfish4, cultured in the southeastern United States. Production declined from 30 000 mt in 1988 to 22 000 mt in 1997 at an APR of -2.7. Rising prices enabled revenue to increase despite this trend, and the crop value rose from US$24.5 million to US$29.2 million at an APR of 2.0.

In reviewing production trends for bivalves and crustaceans between 1998 and 1997, one can see that blue mussel production tripled from 3 to 9 percent, while clam production increased six-fold from 2 to 12 percent (Figs. 11 & 12).

Production of American and Pacific oysters each dropped 6 percent, and red swamp crawfish declined by 4 percent during the time period.





A similar trend can be observed in terms of product value, where clams and mussels increased from 6 to 18 percent and 5 to 9 percent, respectively (Figs. 13 & 14), while slight declines were observed in both American and Pacific oysters.

Major species groups and regional trends

Regional reports

In North America, many aquaculture operations are located in rural and coastal areas and thus provide a significant source of revenue and employment. This is important because the resource-based economies are in decline in many of these areas. This is particularly true in the Pacific Northwest area and the Canadian Maritime Provinces, where restrictions on timber harvest and reduced fishing quotas have caused economic hardship in many communities. The expanding mollusc and salmon production in these areas has allowed communities to transit from resource extraction to aquaculture production as a significant component of their economies. In a similar fashion, gill net bans enacted in several states in the United States have displaced many fishermen from their traditional livelihood. In one case along the Gulf Coast of Florida, federal job training funds were obtained and used to develop a highly successful hard clam farming industry. This industry developed over three to five years and is now producing over 150 million clams per year.

In addition to the contribution of direct employment in aquaculture production, the industry also requires significant amounts of equipment including cages and feed, boats and motors, processing equipment, packaging materials and transportation.


The industry also requires technical support from divers, health professionals, hatcheries and business support services.

Direct employment in the Canadian aquaculture industry in the last few years is estimated at 5 200 full-time employees (FTE), with another 2 400 FTEs in supporting industries. This represents a four-fold increase over the last decade. There are currently an estimated 18 000 persons employed directly in the United States aquaculture industry.

Canadian regional reports

There is strong government support for aquaculture in Canada at both the federal and provincial levels. At the federal level, 17 departments and agencies deliver programmes and services to the industry, and their important areas of federal responsibility are:

  • research and development;
  • regulation of marketed fish products;
  • conservation and protection of wild fish stocks and fish habitats;
  • importation into Canada and movement between provinces of live fish, eggs and dead, whole (none-viscerated) fish;
  • mollusc growing water certification under the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Programme (CSSP); and
  • regulation of therapeutic drugs and vaccines.

The principal federal agencies and their responsibilities are outlined below.




Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). ACOA is responsible for economic development in Atlantic Canada and views aquaculture as an important source of new jobs and a means for diversifying local economies. The agency has made partnerships with the private sector in Atlantic Canada to invest in over 500 projects involving hatcheries, growout sites, processors, cage, net and feed manufacturers, nonprofit organizations and research facilities.

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA). The CEAA administers the federal environmental risk assessment process for physical projects.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The CFIA is responsible for handling, transport, processing and labelling of aquaculture food products. In addition, the Fish, Seafood and Production Division of the CFIA monitors molluscs for marine biotoxins under the CSSP, and tests aquaculture products for drug residues. The Animal Health and Production Division of the CFIA is responsible for regulating aquaculture feeds and licensing fish vaccines.

Environment Canada (DOE). The DOE provides scientific, technical and regulatory advice to the industry. Its water surveys of mollusc-growing areas and classification responsibilities under the CSSP are the activities that most directly affect the industry.

Farm Credit Corporation (FCC). The FCC began providing finance to the aquaculture industry in 1995 and has been an active partner since then.

Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). The DFO provides support for aquaculture development through its regional aquaculture coordinators and local fish health officers. The coordinators provide information about the regulatory framework for aquaculture in addition to guidance on federal programmes and services to assist the industry. The department conducts a broad array of scientific research and works closely with the industry in a number of collaborative projects.

Health Canada, Bureau of Veterinary Drugs (BVD). Due to the complexity and cost of obtaining approvals for the use of veterinary drugs in aquaculture, the private sector has shown little interest in obtaining such approvals. At present, the number of veterinary drugs available for use in aquaculture is very limited. To counter this situation, the bureau has made a provision for a substantial reduction of cost recovery fees for submissions for new drugs intended for minor species, including drugs for aquaculture.


Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). Products used for external treatment of external parasites, such as bath treatments for sea lice, are regulated by the PMRA. The agency has made a substantial effort to support the aquaculture sector by:

  • developing a national sea lice integrated management strategy in partnership with Salmon Health, an industry-supported organization whose mandate is to ensure that Canadian aquaculturists have access to fish health management tools;
  • organizing, together with the United States Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), a workshop on sea lice therapeutic agents;
  • developing a project under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Technical Working Group on Pesticides, whereby the PMRA and CVM are cooperating in sharing data and reviews on sea lice products; and
  • organizing workshops on the east and west coasts to address the assessment of potential environmental impacts of sea lice products and emergency registrations of products during sea lice outbreaks.

Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) The HRDC assists the aquaculture sector through its Sectoral Partnerships Initiative to ensure the industry has a competent and productive work force.

National Research Council (NRC). The NRC Institute for Marine Biosciences is one of Canada’s premier aquaculture research centres. The Industrial Research Assistance Programme (IRAP), part of the NRC, coordinates and supports technical developments in aquaculture. Between 1989 and 1997, IRAP provided financial assistance to Canadian small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) to undertake over 1000 projects in aquaculture.

Statistics Canada publishes aquaculture statistics that report production and value by province and species. The expansion of the aquaculture industry has led to an increasing demand for related statistics (DFO, 1998).

The provinces and territories have the responsibility for the majority of site approvals and for overseeing the industry’s day-to-day operations, as well as the following:







  • specialized research, education and training;
  • leasehold administration and monitoring;
  • infrastructure development; and
  • integrated resource planning and environmental monitoring.

A summary of 1997 Canadian provincial aquaculture species production (quantity and value) is given in Tables 4 and 5 (DFO, 1998).

British Columbia

During the time-frame examined, aquaculture has expanded dramatically in British Columbia, primarily through cage culture of Atlantic salmon and bivalve production. The marine finfish industry in British Columbia utilizes approximately one square kilometre of the 13 million square kilometres of nearshore waters adjoining the province. Atlantic salmon production in 1997 of 36,465 mt was valued at $119 million. Further development of the industry will likely proceed with the recent lifting of a moratorium on new sea cages put in place in 1995 as a result of protests by environmental groups. These groups have expressed concerns related to potential competition between escaped farmed salmon and wild stocks, disease transmission from farms to the wild, antibiotic-resistant pathogens developing on farms, benthic fouling and the loss of biodiversity in the vicinity of net pens. Concerns were also expressed over the interactions between marine mammals and net pens and the use of depredation permits.

The British Columbia government, in response to these concerns, placed a moratorium on new net-pen deployment and assigned the Environmental Assessment Office the task of developing a Technical Advisory Team to prepare a comprehensive discussion paper and make appropriate recommendations.

The Technical Advisory Team acknowledged that there was little data on which to assess the merit of the concerns raised regarding disease transmission or the impacts of antibiotics, pathogens and competition with native species. They concluded that additional information was also needed to assess the impacts of fouling in the vicinity of cages on biodiversity and adjacent mollusc beds.

After reviewing the available data, the team concluded that there was not a significant environmental risk posed by the industry at current production levels, but that additional information should be obtained to evaluate concerns before issuing any new aquaculture tenures.

  The team developed 49 recommendations that will guide the issuance of new lease tenures, and the industry will expand in concert with monitoring protocols and in accordance with the precautionary approach. There are currently about 79 active salmon farms operated by 16 companies in British Columbia employing some 2 200 people.

The British Columbia mollusc industry production is composed primarily of Pacific oysters, Manila clams and scallops, whose wholesale value was US$4.7 million in 1997. Other species being cultured include blue mussels, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, geoduck clams and abalone. There are currently 258 licensed growers utilizing 423 growing areas on intertidal and submerged lands leased from the government. Currently there are 2 115 ha of land tenured for mollusc growing in British Columbia, with about one-half used for deepwater off-bottom culture techniques, with the remainder being intertidal. The mollusc industry is a principal employer in rural areas, occupying approximately 1 000 people on a year around basis.

The mollusc industry has the potential for enormous growth in an area possessing temperate waters and an extensive coastline with many protected areas. The rural locations provide excellent water resources and, if appropriately situated, the industry is sustainable. Global markets for molluscs are strong, particularly as the Asian economies grow and develop. Current mollusc production, valued at US$4.7 million, is achieved using only 0.5 percent of the land tenured for mollusc growing in the province. A recent study by Coopers and Lybrand, Economic Potential of the BC Shellfish Aquaculture Industry (June 1997) provided the following estimations:

  • The BC mollusc industry could generate revenues of US$100 million by 2006 with a land base increase to 3 500 ha.
  • Industry growth could create 1 000 additional full-time jobs.
  • The culture of new species could create another 165 FTEs and US$9.5 million in increased production.

New Brunswick

The New Brunswick aquaculture industry has grown tremendously over the last two decades, with a value of US$40 000 in 1979 that rose to over US$98 million in 1997.




Atlantic salmon alone represents 95 percent of this figure, with 94 000 mt valued at US$94 million, exceeding revenue from any other single agricultural export (including potatoes [US$71 million], dairy products [US$63 million] and poultry/eggs [US$59 million]). Other species cultured include trout (US$4.0 million), Atlantic cupped oysters (US$383 000) and blue mussels (US$73 000).


Aquaculturists in Newfoundland in 1997 produced primarily Atlantic salmon [US$1.8million], steelhead trout [US$1.0 million] and blue mussels [US$429 000]. Other species produced include rainbow trout and scallops, and there is significant interest on the part of growers and the government to aggressively expand the industry. New species being investigated include Arctic char, Atlantic cod, flounder, eel, sea urchins and giant scallops.

Nova Scotia

In 1997, the total value of Nova Scotian aquaculture was US$7.5 million. Finfish culture dominated production, including Atlantic salmon [US$4.3 million] representing 57 percent and steelhead trout [US$1.8 million] at 24 percent. Blue mussels and American oysters were valued at US$1.2 million, representing 7.4 and
9.3 percent of the total, respectively. Other species cultured on a minor scale were scallops, clams, eels, marine plants, sea urchins, arctic char and halibut.


Ontario is the leading Canadian producer of rainbow trout, having commercial production of 3 725 mt with a value of US$10.7 million in 1997. Other species cultured on a small scale include tilapia, perch, walleye and sturgeon. Culture activities undertaken with walleye and sturgeon are for both production and enhancement purposes.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island is the leading producer of blue mussels in the Maritime Provinces, recording a production value of US$8.2 million for 1997, representing about 88 percent of Canadian production in the Northwest Atlantic. The remaining 12 percent of mussels are produced in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and New Brunswick. Production occurs primarily on culture lines, and bags suspended from surface long lines that are submerged in the winter to prevent ice damage.

  American oyster production in the province is valued at US$2.1 million, and a growing finfish sector culturing rainbow trout, arctic char and Atlantic salmon was valued at US$575 000.United States regional reports

Support for aquaculture development

There is strong support for aquaculture within the United States government, and the Department of Commerce recently adopted an aquaculture initiative to increase annual industry revenues from the current US$900 million to US$5 billion over the next 25 years. Federal support for aquaculture is provided primarily through agencies within the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce (Jensen et al.,1994; McVey et al., 1992). The following section summarizes the different departments, services and programmes that provide assistance to United States aquaculture.

Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). This agency provides assistance in developing marketing opportunities for aquaculture producers. It is also responsible for purchasing meat products in order to stabilize market conditions and supply domestic feeding programmes.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The ARS conducts research on aquaculture at 14 locations in the United States. Research activities are centred on genetic improvement, integrated aquatic animal health management, reproduction and early development, nutrition, production systems and environmental sustainability.

Co-operative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES). The CSREES administers federal funds for extramural research, extension and education. CSREES, through its partnership with the Co-operative Extension System, supports extension education, information dissemination and technology transfer programmes that have been critical to the development of commercial aquaculture in the United States.




Total federal extramural funding in aquaculture research programmes administered by CSREES in 1999 was US$20.2 million, which is approximately double the investment of the US$10.3 million recorded in 1987.

Regional Aquaculture Centres (RAC). Five RAC encourage cooperative and collaborative research and extension education programmes in aquaculture having regional or national application. Projects that are developed and funded by the RAC are based on industry needs and are designed to directly influence commercial aquaculture development in all states and territories (USDA-RAC, 1994).

Small Business Innovation Research Programme (SBIR). This programme exists in each department of the federal government and allows grant funding to private businesses to develop innovative technologies for the enhancement of aquaculture production.

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The APHIS oversees animal importation to control pests and diseases. The agency manages depredation by migratory birds, licenses veterinary products and regulates biological control agents and biotechnology applications.

Co-operative State Research Service (CSRS). The CSRS administers grant funds to support collaborative research with state universities.

Economic Research Service (ERS). The ERS analyses production and market trends for aquaculture products and services.

Cooperative Extension Service (CES). CES staff provide for research, education and technology transfer through 74 land grant universities located in all 50 states and six territories.

National Agricultural Library (NAL). The NAL acts as a repository for aquaculture information and coordinates with other agencies to facilitate information exchange.

Department of Commerce

National Environmental, Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS). The NESDIS, in cooperation with some United Nations agencies, maintains the Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts database.

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The NMFS supports research in marine aquaculture and fisheries and promotes the development and expansion of aquaculture production and markets.


National Sea Grant Programme (NSGP). The NSGP supports research and extension activities in aquaculture genetics, pathology, biotechnology, endocrinology, physiology, engineering, policy and economics.

Department of Health and Human Services

Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA regulates and approves the use of therapeutic agents and feed additives used in the aquaculture industry. The FDA, through the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference and the National Shellfish Sanitation Programme, certifies mollusc-growing waters and markets in cooperation with state health departments.

State coordination and support for aquaculture is administered through relevant state agencies and varies from state to state. Usually housed within the Departments of Agriculture or Natural Resources, primary responsibilities include implementation of state and federal regulations.

United States Production

The United States recently completed the first detailed census of aquaculture for 1998, where species production data for individual states have been compiled into regions, area under production, water sources and production systems (USDA, 1999).

A total of 3 252 farms were engaged in freshwater aquaculture production using 129 800 ha. In marine waters, 815 farms owned 25 973 ha of intertidal land used for aquaculture production, and 478 farms also farmed 11 522 ha of public lands leased from individual states or the federal government. The Northeast Region leads in marine intertidal and subtidal production, with 16 125 ha or 62 percent of the nation’s total marine production area. The Western Region follows with 31 percent or 8 012 ha. The Southern Region leads the nation in freshwater production with 2 253 farms utilizing 108 085 ha or 83 percent of the United States total. Data presented in Table 6 provide an overview of the primary species cultured, their value and the number of farms involved.

Of over 4 000 farms, 1 925 use ground water sources, 1 454 use surface water and 815 use salt water. Groundwater is predominantly used in the South, and ground and surface water use is roughly comparable in the other regions.




Northeast Region

Atlantic salmon and American oysters, followed by northern quahogs, dominate aquaculture production in the Northeast. Maine and Connecticut are the primary producers of salmon and oysters, respectively. In 1997, 18 000 mt of Atlantic salmon production represented 47 percent of North American production in the Northwest Atlantic. American oyster production of 63 000 mt was followed by northern quahog production of 18 000 mt.

Production systems in the region include ponds (195), flow-through raceways (98), cages and net-pens (71) and recirculating tanks (65) (USDA, 1999). Regulation and financial capital are the most frequently cited constraints to production of salmon, oysters, mussels and trout in the region. Growers of salmon, quahogs and trout also cite predation as a serious production constraint.

A number of other species are cultured commercially at lower levels in the Northeast and/or are considered experimental. These include rainbow, brown and brook trout (worth together US$8.7 million in 1998); striped bass (US$7.3 million); tilapia (US$4.2 million); fathead minnows (US$300 000) and channel catfish (US$254 000) while koi and ornamental goldfish were worth US$2.1 and US$2.8 million, respectively. Other minor species cultured are sunfish, black bass, walleye, yellow perch, golden shiners, white suckers and various carps. Researchers and growers in the region are optimistic that summer flounder will develop into a major new culture species.

North Central Region

Aquaculture production in the North Central Region involves a wide diversity of species and production systems. There are 292 production ponds, 90 flow-through raceways or tanks and 61 recirculating systems (USDA, 1999). The most significant species by gross sales in 1998 were trout (US$6.6 million), tilapia (US$4.5 million) and catfish (US$3.2 million). Sales of baitfish, including fathead minnows, goldfish and golden shiners, generated US$6.4 million, while sales of ornamental goldfish and koi exceeded US$2.8 million. Other species of commercial interest include walleye, bass and yellow perch.

  Approximately one half of the region’s 362 farms use surface water and the remainder pumped groundwater. The majority of aquaculture producers rely on revenues from culture activities as supplementary income (Hushak, 1993).

Western Region

California, Idaho and Washington combined to produce 94 percent of the region’s production in 1995. With trout production valued at US$34.2 million, Idaho is the primary trout-producing state, with 33 farms contributing 72 percent of this US$47.3 million dollar industry. This is followed by California and Colorado, with crops valued at US$4.3 and US$3.8 million, respectively (USDA, 1999). California is the leading producer of catfish and tilapia, with crops valued at US$7.6 and US$6.9 million, respectively, or 90 percent and 82 percent of the region’s respective total. California also leads the region in hybrid striped bass and sturgeon production. California has seven farms that produce 85 percent of the region’s baitfish, or US$2.2 million of the region’s US$2.6 million total crop value. California is the only state with a significant production of ornamental fish, goldfish and koi carps, of a value of around US$2 million. Washington is the region’s leading producer of net-pen reared Atlantic salmon. While Alaska has significant potential to produce finfish, it instead provides an example of how public policy can constrain industry growth. There is currently a legislative ban prohibiting finfish aquaculture as a result of opposition by members of the state’s powerful fishing industry. Alaskan hatcheries do produce salmon smolts for wild stock enhancement valued at US$16 million. Finfish aquaculture in the Western Region is at times constrained by the restricted availability of broodstock and fry, a lack of new species, limited sites, a lack of capital and a restrictive regulatory climate (Fitzsimmons, 1995).

Mollusc culture in the region is dominated by Washington State, followed by California, Oregon and Alaska. Pacific cupped oyster is the leading species, with estimated production of 40 000 mt in 1998, valued at US$55 million (Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association, pers. comm.). Lesser production of Kumomoto, Atlantic and European oysters occurs in the same states. Other molluscs cultured in the region include Manila clams with 3 200 mt, valued at US$21 million, and the blue mussel with 680 mt, valued at US$2.5 million. Abalone are produced primarily in California, where the industry generates some US$4.0 million in annual sales.




The industry was set for expansion in the late 1980s, but an exotic sabellid worm parasite and the presence of a rickettsial bacterium that causes withering syndrome constrained industry growth during the last decade. These disease problems have been brought largely under control, and industry growth is anticipated.

Southern Region

Catfish dominates aquaculture in the Southern Region, mainly in the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana. These states have catfish industries valued in 1998 at US$285.4, US$58.2, US$55.3 and US$28.4 million, respectively. This represents approximately 90 percent of the 238 000 mt total production in North America, having increased from 164 000 mt in 1988. The predominance of freshwater aquaculture in the region is illustrated by the 44 000 ha of freshwater production compared to only 2 400 ha in marine aquaculture.

Ornamental fish and aquatic plants are another significant industry in the region, which is centred in south Florida and produces over
2 000 species of ornamental fish and plants. This industry is currently valued at approximately US$60 million, composed of US$48 million for ornamental fish and another US$12 million for aquatic plants.

Baitfish culture in the South is located mainly in Arkansas, where producers use 29 800 ha of ponds to produce 85 percent of the region’s baitfish, primarily golden shiners, with smaller numbers of fathead minnows and goldfish. In 1998, Arkansas generated US$23 million of the region’s US$27.1 million in baitfish revenue (Stone et al., 1997; USDA, 1999).

Culture of molluscs in the Southern Region includes oysters, mussels and clams. Clams lead with a crop value of US$22.2 million, and Florida is the primary producer, generating almost half of this. While oysters are a significant fishery in the area, aquaculture production is limited, with 24 farms generating only US$1.5 million in sales (USDA, 1999).

Crustacean production in North America is centred in the southern United States, where Louisiana leads the crawfish production, valued at US$9.1 million or 93 percent of the region’s total. Texas heads penaeid shrimp production with an US$8.4 million crop that represents 89 percent of the region’s production value.


Main markets for aquaculture products

The products of North American aquaculture production are marketed mostly within the region. In 1997, per capita consumption of seafood was estimated at 6.6 kg, down 0.1 kg from the previous year and representing a drop of 0.7 kg from the peak seen in 1987.

In the United States, the major part of production is consumed domestically, while Canada consumes around 35 percent of its production, exporting 65 percent, primarily to United States’ markets. Major competition for finfish producers within regional markets comes from Chile, Norway and the United Kingdom.

Aquaculture market trends

The region’s aquaculture products will face strong competition in the new millennium, needing aggressive marketing efforts to boost per capita consumption that has been relatively flat, even reducing, over the last decade. Increases in seafood consumption in North America have resulted from population increases of two to three million per year. Shrimp, tuna, salmon and catfish represent 50 to 60 percent of total seafood consumption. For these reasons, marketing efforts need to be directed at increasing per capita consumption of existing products, while product diversification should increase market opportunities.

Competition will be especially strong from the pork and poultry industries, since prices remain low and their industry associations will expand promotional efforts. These promotional efforts will market new product forms for at-home use and also for restaurant and institutional food service markets.

The general recovery and strengthening of Asian economies will benefit North American aquaculture producers. Japan is the largest importer of seafood in the world, and imports are likely to increase as a result of a stronger economy and higher monetary exchange rates. This trend will benefit primarily mollusc growers, who will capitalize on improving market conditions. Additional export opportunities will be tied to improving economic conditions in Malaysia, Taiwan Province of China, Hong Kong5 and Korea.

The following sections deal with specific considerations for individual species.





Recent data show that sales of channel catfish have risen by 3.7 percent for the first eight months of 1999 compared to 1998, and that prices are stable at around US$1.54/kg. Product sales of fresh and frozen catfish are up by 3 percent, and prices for processed products have averaged US$5.15/kg. Sales of filleted products represent major growth, with sales of fresh fillets up by 9 percent while the sale of frozen fillets rose by 3 percent. Filleted sales now occupy 61 percent of the total sales.

In recent years, falling prices for corn and soybeans have enabled catfish farmers to increase gross revenue in spite of stable prices. The combination of stable prices and reduced feed costs has allowed the expansion of pond acreage and stock inventories. Currently, some 70 000 ha are being farmed (1999), an increase of 5 percent from 1998. Catfish production remains centred in the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana, accounting collectively for 90 percent of total production.

Inventories of market-size fish have increased (1999 data), and the combination of the robust United States economy and low unemployment has resulted in strong sales in the food service sector, the largest market for catfish products. While the United States continues to import large quantities of seafood, much of these are high-value products that should not significantly compete with catfish in the market place.


Trout production is located primarily in the state of Idaho (United States) and the Province of Ontario (Canada), although sites with suitable water sources are located throughout both countries. Rainbow trout farmers in the United States supply fish to processors (59 percent), fee and recreational fishing establishments (18 percent) and to restaurants and retailers (11 percent). For the financial year (FY) of 1997/19986, 57.1 million market-size fish were sold for a value of US$59.7 million. The total volume and value were both down by 4 and
2 percent, respectively, from the previous year. The average value/kg was US$2.38 during 1998, a rise of two cents from the previous year.

Trout farmers sold 11.6 million fish for stocking during the year, a rise of 7 percent compared to the previous year. Sales to fee-based and recreational fishing establishments, the government and other growers represented 41, 26 and 16 percent of total stocking sales during 1997/1998.

  The average price/kg was US$5.08, a drop of five cents from the previous year.

Trout fingerling sales were 22.7 million during this period, compared to 8.33 million for the previous year. The average value was US$8.00/kg, compared to US$14.63 the previous year. The total value was US$3.78 million, up 323 percent from the previous year’s US$1.17 million in sales.

Trout egg sales during FY1997/1998 totaled 330 million eggs, 10 percent less than sold the previous year. Eggs sold for US$15.36/1000, up 64 cents from the US$14.72 received the previous year.

Trout growers lost 34.2 million fish during the year, equivalent to 3 560 mt. Disease-related losses accounted for 84 percent of all losses, with predation accounting for 12 percent, and 4 percent being lost to other causes.


Tilapia production has continued to expand in North America, mainly in the United States. Production of around 1 600 mt was recorded in the Northeast, North Central and Southern regions of the United States, while the Western Region produced twice that amount. This represents a doubling of production in the Northeast and North Central regions, but slight declines in the South and West.

Live fish sales account for 90 percent of the domestic market, where sales are mainly made to the Asian markets on the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf Coasts and in metropolitan areas of the Midwest. Prices were down from 1997 levels of around US$3.52/kg to US$2.20/kg in 1998. Proximity to the market plays an increasing role in farm viability, as live shipping costs from the growing regions in the Midwest to either coast are about US$1.20/kg.

Consumption was up 12 percent in 1998, and domestic production supplied approximately 20 percent of total demand. Imports, on a live weight basis, reached 42 000 mt in 1998, a 15 percent increase over 1997, and imports for the first six months of 1999 are up 26 percent from the same period in 1998. Imported products fill the gap between production and market demand and, in 1998, the dominant suppliers were Taiwan Province of China (12 600 mt of frozen whole fish and 2000 mt of frozen fillets) and Costa Rica (2 500 mt of fresh fillets). Taiwan Province of China has almost doubled exports of frozen fillets to the United States in each of the last four years.




The value of tilapia imports increased by 40 percent, to US$35.4 million, in the first half of 1999. Tilapia prices increased for all product forms in the first half of 1999, a contrast to 1997 and 1998, where prices fell in all categories. Prices for frozen whole fish increased by 15 cents/kg in the first half of 1999 to US$1.10. Imports are expected to remain strong as long as the United States economy remains solid. A weakening dollar against Asian currencies would probably lead to a softening of demand. With United States pork and chicken suppliers benefiting from low grain prices, tilapia imports will face strong competition from these commodities.


Salmon produced in North America is sold almost entirely on the domestic market and, to meet further demand, imports into the United States reached 53 000 mt valued at US$311 million in the first half of 1999, representing increases of 13 and 25 percent, respectively, for the same time period in 1998.

Increases were recorded in all three product categories (fresh whole fish, frozen whole fish, and fresh and frozen fillets), with imports of the fillet products and fresh whole fish each being around 53 000 mt. The value of fillet products during the first six months of 1999 totaled US$161 million and accounted for 52 percent of all Atlantic salmon imports.

The biggest change seen is that these increased imports are coming from European producers and not from Canada and Chile, who have been the dominant suppliers to the United States market during recent years. Principal European suppliers are Norway and the United Kingdom. Higher imports from these countries more than offset the slight declines observed from Chile and Canada. The decline in Canadian imports is surprising, as the weakness of the Canadian dollar relative to United States currency should have provided good export opportunities. Historically, Canada has exported around 65 percent of domestic salmon production to the United States market.


The future of shrimp aquaculture in the United States is linked to the extent of the distribution of nonindigenous shrimp viruses and the risk posed to both cultured and native shrimp populations.


  In 1998, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture (JSA) held a Review and Risk Assessment Workshop so as to complete a qualitative assessment of the risks associated with shrimp viruses, to evaluate the need for a more comprehensive risk assessment and to identify research needs.

The relative risks associated with shrimp aquaculture, shrimp processing and other potential sources of shrimp viral introduction were evaluated. State management agencies will use these results to develop regulatory mechanisms for the reduction of the potential impacts of viral transmission to indigenous crustacean populations. These regulatory processes are likely to lead to the use of virus-free stocks ultimately and a combination of effluent-screening and water treatment in the short term.

The impetus for shrimp aquaculture in the United States remains strong, since US$3.1 billion of the national trade deficit resulted from shrimp imports in 1998. Of the 315 000 mt imported, frozen shrimp accounted for 86 percent, with processed products at 13 percent and 1 percent being fresh shrimp. The United States market is expected to remain strong as long as the economy is high and unemployment is low.

Red Swamp Crawfish

Crawfish imports totaled 591 mt with a value of US$1.9 million during the first seven months of 1999, representing declines from the same period in 1998 of 18 and 26 percent, respectively. China is the main supplier, but the imposition of a 123 percent import tariff has reduced 1999 imports, and further reductions are anticipated in 2000.

Crawfish exports fell 69 percent in 1998 to 810 mt as a result of increased competition and depressed markets in Scandinavian countries. This decline is a continuing trend, demonstrated by the records for the first half year’s export revenues for US$10.1 (1997), US$2.7 (1998) and US$1.9 million (1999). These reductions reflect the strength of the dollar and increasing competition from other countries, most notably China. Markets for live crawfish remain strong in Louisiana and the surrounding states, but frozen product sales face stiff competition from the Chinese product, even with the import tariff.




Oysters and clams

Oysters are marketed as live animals for the half-shell market or as shucked meat. More than 95 percent of North American aquaculture production of oysters, mussels and clams is marketed domestically. Over the first six months of 1999, total United States bivalve exports declined by 3 percent from the same time period in 1998, amounting to 1 900 mt. This trend results from the continuing strength of the dollar and problems in a number of Asian economies. The forecast is that with signs of recovery in these economies, export opportunities should begin to increase.

While bivalve exports are declining generally, some North American producers are targeting new export markets in Asia. Given the high cost of transporting live animals, Asian markets have traditionally been for shucked meats, with smaller amounts of live product going to Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan Province of China, Malaysia, Singapore and Korea. The cost of transporting the live in-shell product is prohibitive, but some producers have recently begun shipping containers of whole frozen in-shell oysters to Asian markets where they are used in a half-shell buffet trade.

Atlantic oysters are marketed as shucked meats or the live-shell product in roughly equal quantities. Approximately 80 percent of Pacific oysters were sold as shucked meats in 1998, down from 98 percent a decade ago. This reflects the increasing popularity of half-shell oysters among consumers.

Major issues and trends

Since supplies from capture fisheries are unlikely to increase in the coming decades and the world population is currently over six billion and growing, aquaculture producers will have a significant role in producing much needed animal protein to feed future generations.

Where this occurs will depend upon:

  • the availability of natural resources to support production,
  • access to feeds and production technology,
  • access to health management services,
  • a supportive regulatory environment, and
  • public acceptance of the environmental impacts that inevitably accompany any food-producing endeavour.

In North America and elsewhere, aquaculture relies on precious water resources and, as populations increase, access to good quality water and the ability to discharge effluents will become more and more restrictive. In many areas, continued aquaculture expansion will increasingly use water-recirculation technologies for land-based culture systems. These technologies will range from high technology with very little water exchange (particulate filtration, biofiltration, foam fractionation, ozonolysis and oxygenation) to less complex and cheaper technologies such as constructed wetlands, using natural biofiltration processes for treating effluent waste.

Higher technology systems will be handicapped by increased operating and production costs, and only relatively expensive products will allow implementation to be economically viable, and this in areas with a well-developed infrastructure. In North America, these systems are in operation primarily for striped bass, penaeid shrimp, sturgeon, tilapia and ornamental fish that are destined for high-value fresh or live markets. These production systems can be commercially viable, but the technology remains far from turnkey.

Since the availability of fresh water and discharge restrictions limit production in many areas of North America, the most significant production increases will occur in marine offshore production systems. In recognition of this, British Columbia (Canada) salmon growers are petitioning the government to end a moratorium on the expansion of net-pen salmon farming that was initiated in response to environmental concerns. In the United States, the Department of Commerce has adopted a new policy on aquaculture development that will encourage aquaculture production within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone. The goal over the next 25 years is to boost aquaculture revenue from the current annual value of US$1 billion to US$4 billion. The Department of Commerce is promoting aquaculture development as a means to offset the trade deficit for fishery products, which was US$12 billion in 1994. The Canadian government is also providing strong support for aquaculture development, with the recent appointment of a Commissioner for Aquaculture Development and the convening of a National Round Table to identify constraints and opportunities for future development.





Biotechnology applications to cultured fish and molluscs hold great promise for different aspects of the production process, including:

  • improved growth rates,
  • more efficient utilization of feed,
  • enhanced immune responses to disease, and
  • a wide array of other production improvements from increased yield to longer shelf life.

These improvements will come about through the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) produced through ploidy manipulations, gene transfer or other methods. While the use of GMOs promises great improvements in animal production, it also poses ecological risks and benefits that must be addressed responsibly. It is critically important that a science-based risk assessment be conducted prior to working with aquatic GMOs, because of the likelihood that escapes will occur and the difficulty of recapture when such an escape takes place.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), with input from a wide range of experts in aquatic sciences and genetics, has developed Performance Standards for Safely Conducting Research with Genetically Modified Fish and Shellfish. Accompanied by a computer-based decision-support tool, these standards will assist the tasks of risk assessment and risk management. The performance standards were approved in 1995 by the Agricultural Biotechnology Research Advisory Committee of the USDA. These standards will be used in the establishment of protocols for the use of GMOs and are expected to guide evaluations of the performance and environmental safety of aquatic GMOs in the United States and abroad. This development is critically important as a mechanism to enable the safe utilization of GMOs in commercial aquaculture production.

In the past, North American consumers have been left largely on the periphery as the agriculture industry has increasingly incorporated the use of genetically engineered corn, soybeans and other commodities in efforts to improve product quality and reduce pesticide use. Recently, however, concerns over the presence of genetically modified corn and soybeans in a wide variety of food products have moved the issue to the forefront of the public’s view.

  Some groups in North America are beginning to call for restrictions and labelling of products that have been genetically modified or contain genetically modified ingredients.

Outlook – development trends and management

Aquaculture production in North America has great opportunities for further expansion in lesser-developed rural, coastal and offshore areas where there are fewer user-group conflicts. Such openings include the culture of bivalve molluscs and net-pen culture of a variety of finfish. Aquaculture development closer to urban areas will incorporate greater technology to recirculate and filter water, so as to reduce the burden on limited water resources and limit the volume of effluent discharges.

Current technologies for seed production, health management, feeds and culture systems are sufficient to support the expansion of the existing production sectors. Increased efficiency will be derived from continued research in these areas. For example, while feeds are available for the primary cultured species, there are numerous species for which specific dietary requirements have not been identified yet. These include striped bass, sturgeon, summer flounder, abalone and a host of other species that have been proposed as candidates for aquaculture. Refinements in diets should result in additional viable species for aquaculture, improved performance and a reduction in nutrient levels in discharge waters.

There will be a continuing need for research and extension services for the support of the existing industry, and this is evident in the lack of comprehensive selective breeding programmes for many cultured species. This is being addressed partially through breeding programmes for Pacific oysters and channel catfish. Nonetheless, considerably more effort should be directed to these requirements. The significant achievements of Norwegian developments with Atlantic salmon should serve as a model for other cultured species. This promises significant gain through genetic manipulation without the controversies surrounding the use of GMOs.

Another area where North America can contribute to the future of aquaculture development is in the management, acquisition and dissemination of information. In the United States, a web-based system called the Aquaculture Network Information Center (AquaNIC) has been developed to provide access to widely dispersed aquaculture information through a central internet location.




AquaNIC houses over 8 000 publications, newsletters, photographs, slide sets, videos and directories and more than two million files were downloaded in 1998-1999 (Swann, 1999). Visits to the home page of AquaNIC average more than 5 000 per month by people from 90 countries, and more than 600 other websites provide links to the site. This ready availability of information should accelerate progress in research, education and technology transfer, while advances in real time video programming will enable long distance Internet-based training to occur.

The creation, management and dissemination of information will foster the continued expansion of aquaculture in North America and around the globe. The efficient use and sharing of information will assist in maximizing productivity and ensuring sustainable development as valuable and limited natural resources are used to produce much needed aquaculture products.


DFO. 1999. Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada; StatisticalServices

FAO Fisheries Department. 1995. The state of world fisheries and aquaculture, Rome, 57 pp.

FAO Fisheries Department. 1999. The state of world fisheries and aquaculture, Rome, 112 pp.

FAO, 2000. FISHSTAT Plus – Version 2.3.

Fitzsimmons, K. 1995. Western Region aquaculture industry survey and review of constraints to aquaculture development and new species. USDA Western Regional Aquaculture Center, 73 pp.


Hushak, L.J. 1993. North Central Regional aquaculture industry situation and outlook report. 46 pp.

Jensen, G. and McVey, E. 1994. Resource guide to aquaculture information. U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agriculture Library. 155 pp.

McVey, E. M., Hanfman, D.T. and Young, A.T. 1992. National profile of information services in aquaculture.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agriculture Library, 23 pp.
Mieremet, B., McVey, J. and Rhodes, E. 2000. Aquaculture workshop report, August 11-13, 1999. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 105 pp.

Rana, K.J. 1997. Global overview of production and production trends. In Review of the state of world aquaculture, p. 3-16. FAO Fish. Circ. No. 86, Rev.1.

Stone, N., Park, E., Dorman, L. and Thomforde, H. 1997. Baitfish culture in Arkansas: golden shiners, goldfish and fathead minnows. Cooperative Extension Service. University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff, AR, 68 pp.

Swann, L. 1999. History, current status and future of the web for international aquaculture education. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Programme, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service and the University of Illinois Extension,

USDA. 1999. National Agriculture Statistics Service - 1998 Census of Aquaculture census97/aquaculture/aquaculture.htm

USDA-RAC. 1994. The Regional Aquaculture Centers. USDA North Central Regional Aquaculture Center, 244 pp.


1 [email protected]

2 Canada and the United States of America.

3 Canada and the United States of America.

4 The term “crawfish” is the same as “crayfish” e.g. in European aquaculture.

5 China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

6 Financial (Accounting) Year for the United States; September 1 1997 to August 31 1998