Aquaculture continues to exceed traditional capture fisheries in meeting the global seafood demand, spurring more and more investigations into how the field can be optimized to its full potential. The SNAPP Open-Ocean Aquaculture working group recently completed a study in Frontiers that helps to answer one very important question about offshore aquaculture: what exactly is it?
Despite its growing utilization, offshore aquaculture is still a relatively new practice, and there has yet to be a consensus on what qualities of a fish farm constitute it as being "offshore." This study was comprised of an in-depth literature review on the latest developments in offshore aquaculture, focusing primarily on identifying trends in the metrics that define the practice.
The research team found that certain metrics such as depth, distance from shore, and current were recurring themes in the literature, but were rarely measured or reported.
One major finding was that current offshore aquaculture practices are neither extremely deep nor distant from shore, but rather most "offshore" facilities are relatively nearshore operations.
This research uncovered the severe dearth of information on how farm parameters are reported, emphasizing that in order to set ecologically meaningful metrics for offshore aquaculture, more rigorous standards of documentation and reporting must be established.
Offshore Aquaculture: I know It When I See It
Froehlich H.E., Smith, A., Gentry R.R., Halpern, B.S.
Frontiers, May 2017, doi: 0.3389/fmars.2017.00154