U.S. Offshore Aquaculture Potential in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico

Authors: Tetyana Pecherska*,
Topics: Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Agricultural Geography, United States
Keywords: aquaculture, united states, suitability analysis, fisheries
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download

Worldwide seafood demand is on the rise and as harvests of wild fisheries reach capacity, more countries are turning to aquaculture to fulfill their needs. Despite having access to over 3.5 million square miles of coastal waters within its federal jurisdiction, also known as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), current U.S. regulations do not allow offshore aquaculture in federal waters. Through a spatial suitability analysis, this study identifies suitable sites for offshore aquaculture in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico both within current state jurisdiction (up to 3 miles offshore) and given the hypothetical expansion of aquaculture into the EEZ (3 to 200 miles offshore). The analysis evaluates the cultivation potential of Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon, cobia, winter flounder, blue mussels, and sea scallops. To construct the suitability analysis, a multicriteria evaluation was conducted using fuzzy membership and Boolean constraints for environmental and institutional factors that affect offshore aquaculture potential. Results suggest that salmon has the highest potential for cultivation both in coastal areas and the EEZ, followed by winter flounder and mussels. Although relatively small in total area, suitable coastal sites show potential for development within the current regulatory framework as a precursor to future expansion into federal waters. This suitability analysis demonstrates that geospatial analysis offers a useful way for assessing aquaculture suitability across a diversity of complex factors.

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