Aquaculture, the controlled production of seafood, ornamental fish and other aquatic life, is big business in Florida. In 2012, the state’s producers earned $70 million in cash receipts, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey.
Worldwide, aquaculture is responsible for about half of all seafood consumed, so this emerging sector of Florida agricultural production holds great promise for the future, said Karl Havens, Florida Sea Grant director and a professor with the University of Florida’s Institute of Flood and Agricultural Sciences.
To inform the public about this rapidly developing field, Florida Sea Grant chose aquaculture as the subject of its latest special report for the statewide business magazine Florida Trend.
The report, “Florida’s Economy Is Expanding Under the Sea,” appears in the April issue of the magazine. It’s the second of a four-part series focused on important opportunities and challenges involving the marine environments off Florida’s shores.
“We have tremendous optimism about aquaculture’s potential to expand and to meet important needs,” Havens said. “Our role at Florida Sea Grant is to find ways of making aquaculture production more efficient, more economically viable and more sustainable, and bring that knowledge to producers.”
The report highlights statewide production of the hard clam, Mercenaria mercenaria, and explains how Florida Sea Grant personnel helped establish this industry, which now generates about $39 million in gross revenue impact each year.
“Several of our faculty evaluated the hard clam for production in Florida waters,” Havens said. “Their expertise and dedication were essential in convincing local fishermen that this species was suitable for aquaculture production and that a ready market existed.”
Also mentioned are several new aquaculture initiatives, including production of sunray venus clams, oysters, corals and aquatic plants.
For more information about aquaculture, visit the Florida Sea Grant website,http://www.flseagrant.org
Photo:Leslie Sturmer is currently funded by Florida Sea Grant to advance the production of a promising new shellfish, the sunray venus clam. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones