Aquaculture is the breeding, rearing and harvesting of plants and animals through Marine and Freshwater farms.
Marine: Culturing of species that live in the ocean. The U.S. marine aquaculture primarily produces oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp and salmon. Farms that are in the ocean are made of cages, that can be on the seafloor or suspended in a water column. Marine aquaculture doesn’t necessarily have to take place in the ocean, they can be made on land with manmade ponds or tanks.
Freshwater: Culturing of species that live in rivers, lakes and streams. The U.S. freshwater aquaculture is dominated by catfish, but also produces bass, trout and tilapia. Farms are primarily in ponds or on land.
Globally, the U.S. is a minor aquaculture producer. In 2011, the U.S. produced 0.8% of all aquaculture, while Asia produced 88%. The United States consumed 7,424,152 tons of seafood in 2009 though, and a lot of our seafood is imported from Asia. Aquaculture provides thousand of jobs in operations and ancillary services. In the United States, 80% of our fish is imported, and of that 80%, 50% of it is fish is acquired through aquaculture. If we were to expand the aquaculture industry in the United States, there would be so many job opportunities and we wouldn’t have to import so much of our fish.
Aquaculture accounts for over 50% of the world market for fish products. Aquaculture provides an efficient means of protein production. It is sustainable and consistent. Wild fish stock populations can fluctuate, and over-harvesting them is detrimental. Being able to have fish farms allows for you to control the breeding and create enough fish to meet the supply/demand. Since we import so much of our fish, our seafood trade deficit has grown to over $11.2 billion annually. The advantage of aquaculture in the U.S. is to create more jobs, lower the seafood deficit and meet the supply/demand.
A build up of organic material beneath fish farms can impact on the flora and fauna of an area, causing major changes to sediment chemistry and affecting the water column. Other farm discharges and waste products can affect it as well. The escaping of exotic species, transmission and control of disease, and control of predatory species are also areas of concern aquaculture. In contrast, shellfish farming usually results in a net removal of nutrients from the water column, and is considered to cause less environmental damage. Nevertheless, shellfish production can cause a build up of organic material on the seabed below as a result from organic material that shellfish release (i.e. poop) Organic build up isn't always a bad thing, but too much can lead to algae blooms or even death.
As you've seen, aquaculture isn't that popular in the U.S. In Asia, aquaculture is thriving because Asia is the home of aquaculture, a practice which dates back to thousands of years. As you can see in this table, Asia was the primary source for aquaculture, and it still is today. As to why aquaculture isn't popular in the U.S., it is becoming popular. People are realizing the benefits and more are getting behind it. The industry has grown in the past years, but at a slow rate.