Half of America's seafood comes from aquaculture—the cultivation of fish and other marine life for food consumption—and that share is expected to grow. The federal government has proposed a fivefold increase in U.S. aquaculture productive, but policy makers need to take steps to ensure that the growth is carried out in an environmentally responsible way.
In its report, Sustainable Marine Aquaculture: Fulfilling the Promise, Managing the Risks, the task force recommended a suite of protective standards to ensure that aquaculture development poses a minimal threat to the ocean environment. The task force advocated evaluation of environmental risks prior to granting permits for marine aquaculture, and the inclusion of permit conditions to eliminate or minimize those risks. The panel urged that only native species of the local wild genotype be used in marine aquaculture unless the risk from doing so can be shown to be negligible. The task force also recommended enhanced research and development and the use of market-based incentives to ensure sustainable, ecologically sound aquaculture.