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Is U.S. Marine Aquaculture Economically Sustainable?


March 19, 2007

With growing global populations and ever-increasing demands
for seafood, fish farms are expected to expand significantly over the next few
decades. But is aquaculture economically sustainable? Do the benefits outweigh
the costs when all of the relevant environmental factors are considered? A team
of social scientists from WHOI’s Marine Policy Center produced an analysis of
the economics of marine aquaculture in the U.S., identifying major challenges
on the path to large-scale aquaculture such as: disease transmission from
farmed fish to wild stocks; the effects of interbreeding in farmed fish and of
escapes into the wild population; and the availability of forage fish stocks
for feeding carnivorous finfish in farms. The team also discusses some of the
significant conceptual issues that arise when attempting to characterize the
“economic sustainability” of a specific activity like marine
aquaculture in a single country.