Coastal Marine Resources
Fisheries Management
Protected Species
Ecosystem Observations
Coral Reef Conservation
Ecosystem Research


Program Mission

NOAA is at the forefront of a national initiative to help the United States become more self-sufficient in the production of seafood. In 2004, NOAA launched the Aquaculture (AQC) Program to integrate and coordinate the agency's marine aquaculture policies, research, outreach, and international obligations. The AQC Program's mission is to foster and manage environmentally responsible and sustainable marine aquaculture for food production and stock enhancement. This mission reflects NOAA's strategy to meet the growing world-wide demand for healthy seafood though a combination of sustainable commercial fisheries and robust domestic aquaculture production.

Ecosystem Approaches to Management

The AQC Program supports ecologically sound coastal and open ocean marine shellfish and finfish farming, as well as stock enhancement activities that support commercial and recreational fishing and the restoration of some endangered species. The program is designed to increase environmentally responsible domestic marine aquaculture production, create jobs for coastal communities, increase regional food supply and security, and help restore depleted marine species.

The AQC Program enables domestic aquaculture production within the context of NOAA's marine stewardship responsibilities, which include the protection of the marine environment while balancing multiple uses of coastal and ocean waters. Also, by integrating the research capabilities available across the agency, the program continues to be an international leader in aquaculture research and technology development. Areas of emphasis include research on nutrition, early life history culture techniques, aquatic species restoration, stock enhancement, and ecosystem management.

The AQC Program is a collaboration between NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, National Ocean Service, Office of Ocean and Atmospheric Research, and National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service and works with the other EGT programs to support Ecosystem Approaches to Management (EAM). The program's top priority is to develop a sound and effective regulatory framework for marine aquaculture in the United States. The AQC Program also funds research initiatives to improve resource management capabilities through the development and application of aquaculture technology. These research initiatives support the development of a science-based regulatory framework for marine aquaculture in the United States. At the same time, public communication and outreach is an integral part of the program's mission because a well informed public - that acts as a steward of coastal and marine ecosystems - is an asset to the program and the agency.

The AQC Program consistently supports the agency's mission and EAM goals by contributing to public understanding and appreciation of the role of aquaculture as a vital national food source and a fishery management tool.