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Coastal Aquaculture Planning and Environmental Sustainability


      The NOAA National Ocean Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research together support national aquaculture policies and coastal economies by enabling safe, sustainable domestic seafood production.
The NOAA National Ocean Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research together support national aquaculture policies and coastal economies by enabling safe, sustainable domestic seafood production.

The NOAA Coastal Aquaculture Planning and Environmental Sustainability Program (CAPES) assesses aquaculture environmental interactions to support sustainable coastal aquaculture development. Our scientists are multidisciplinary experts with over 75 years of combined marine aquaculture experience. We equip the nation’s coastal decision-makers with spatial planning and ecoforecasting tools to make informed and confident decisions regarding aquaculture in the coastal zone.

Why is this important?

Our appetite for safe and nutritious seafood products is outpacing the global seafood supply. To help satisfy this demand, the US is increasing its aquaculture production. NOAA is committed to supporting an aquaculture industry that is economically sustainable and environmentally and socially responsible [NOAA Aquaculture Policy]. American expertise and innovation play a significant role in the evolution of aquaculture technology for production of valuable fish, shellfish, and other aquatic organisms. While the opportunity for marine aquaculture development is great, industry growth has been constrained by competition among user groups for space and resources and concerns about environmental impacts.

Marine Aquaculture and the Environment

The environmental effects of marine aquaculture can vary widely according to the species selected, location and scale of the aquaculture operation, the experience level of the operators, and the production methods utilized. Modern production technologies, proper siting, standardized operating procedures, and best management practices reduce the risk of negative environmental interactions.

Coastal Aquaculture Planning Tools

Our maps, models and data provide coastal managers with operational tools required for increasing space for aquaculture within the coastal zone. These tools provide:

  • critical coastal intelligence needed to inform marine spatial planning and effectively reduce user conflicts,
  • spur commerce and industry development, enhance interagency and intergovernmental collaboration,
  • engage affected communities in a transparent regulatory environment, and
  • preserve critical ecosystem functions and services.

Projects and Publications

To learn more about CAPES, contact James.Morris@noaa.gov. To keep up with CAPES aquaculture news and projects happening around the globe, search "aquaculture" on the NCCOS Projects Explorer.