The Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently released new national policies aimed towards sustainable marine aquaculture practices to cope with the increasing demand for seafood production, to promote job creation associated with coastal communities, and to restore critical ecosystems (Read the full news article here.) Among the priorities set for developing sustainable practices, the administration hopes to initiate a partnership with the shellfish industry to increase production and improve water quality.
Interestingly, one of the comments that was frequently mentioned in our discussion session on sustainable mariculture practices in the Caribbean was to identify and prioritize the cultivation of important “filter feeders” (molluscan species such as conch, oysters, clams, etc.) since they can help improve water quality and clean coastal waters, making for environmentally-friendly shellfish mariculture. However, a comprehensive aquaculture strategic plan was deemed necessary for its implementation along with the development of indices and standards that could help define what parameters are needed for sustainable, environmentally-friendly practices in Caribbean coastal waters.
In 2009, international efforts to engage governments for the development of a regional shellfish hatchery in the Caribbean was made by the Aquaculture Service (FIRA), Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (click here to read their report). Of the 21 countries assessed, 14 demonstrated interests in studying the cultivation of native molluscan species.
Contributed by: K. Grove and J. Seda
Photo: UPR Sea Grant archive