You may be surprised to learn that nearly 90 percent of the seafood we consume here in the United States comes from abroad, and most of these imports are farmed products. As such, Sea Grant and other federal programs are promoting research and outreach activities on aquaculture, which holds great promise for reducing this trade imbalance while providing healthy and sustainable seafood products here at home. In this issue of our newsletter we feature several stories on initiatives designed to expand the aquaculture industry here in Massachusetts. In the past 5 years, the dollar value of shellfish production in the state has nearly tripled, much of that due to the increasing popularity of oysters. Woods Hole Sea Grant plays an integral role in supporting the oyster culture industry, and is also conducting research on products beyond this single species from kelp to blood clams, as a way to help farmers diversify their portfolio of farmed products. These species also hold promise in terms of improving water quality – unlike crops on land, they require no water or fertilizer, and in fact they absorb nutrients from their environment. Combined with the economic benefits, a growing aquaculture industry in the state is a real win-win for all its citizens.
– Matt Charette, director, Woods Hole Sea Grant