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One Fish, Two Fish, Midwest Fish: Characterizing Land-Based Aquaculture and Food System Trends

Authors: Rebecca Chapman*, The Ohio State University
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Economic Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: aquaculture, food systems, GIS, political ecology, economic geography, midwest, seafood, fish, fisheries
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Context: Globally, capture fishery production has remained relatively static since the late 1980s. Aquaculture has been responsible for remarkable growth in the supply of fish for human consumption. In the US, the Midwest is a small and unique regional market for producing high-quality year-round fish.

Objective: Design a special-purpose GIS application to visualize the distribution of aquaculture operations, generalize the uses and drivers of economic development for this industry, and investigate the political economy of aquaculture from a food system perspective.

Data: Summary data from the USDA Census of Aquaculture provides current (2018) industry-specific statistics at the state and national levels. Raw data includes production volume and methods, surface water acres and sources, sales, point of first sale outlets, and aquaculture distributed for restoration, conservation, enhancement, or recreational purposes. Individual facilities, including National (FWS) and State (DNR) Hatcheries are aggregated with major and minor private facilities through various sources including public media, professional associations, certified producers.

Result: These sources are used to perform a comprehensive mapped inventory of the burgeoning Midwest market for aquaculture. The resulting GIS platform provides an assessment of the scale and intensity of the aquaculture sector.

Discussion: This work uses aquaculture as a lens to study land-ocean connections as a way of progressing nature-society theory. This survey reveals the conflicting dialogues within food safety, sustainability, and livelihoods. This research produces critical knowledge on the role of gender in aquaculture, as well as posthuman reflections on the conditions for non-human animals.

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