Global aquaculture production is growing rapidly, with production more than doubling in weight and by value from 1989 to 1998. With many capture fisheries catches peaking, scientists, governments, and international organizations all point to aquaculture as the most important means to increase global fish supplies.
The aquaculture industry in the United States, which is dominated by freshwater catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) production, generates about one billion dollars each year. Marine aquaculture comprises roughly one-third of U.S. production by weight, and despite rapid increases in salmon and clam production, growth of U.S. marine aquaculture has been slow on average. Efforts to develop marine aquaculture in the open ocean could catalyze future growth.
Aquaculture has a number of economic and other benefits. But if it is done without adequate environmental safeguards it can cause environmental degradation.