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ASMFC Releases Aquaculture: Effects on Fish Habitat along the Atlantic Coast

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By Milthon Lujan

Arlington, USA – The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission announces the release of the 16th publication in its Habitat Management Series, entitled Aquaculture: Effects on Fish Habitat along the Atlantic Coast. The document provides a broad description of current and common marine aquaculture (mariculture) practices, siting
considerations, and some potential effects on fish habitats. It’s intended to serve as an introduction to the topic and facilitate a discussion of the intersection of aquaculture planning and fishery habitat conservation.

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Mariculture is an important source of sustainable seafood production and a growing industry that creates jobs, supports communities, and promotes international trade. The U.S. aquaculture and mariculture industry was valued at $1.4 billion and produced 627 million pounds of meat and 1.2 million jobs in 2015. As the human population continues to grow, there will be an ever-increasing demand for seafood. Aquaculture and mariculture can help meet that demand.

From a fish habitat perspective, it is important to carefully consider spatial planning before establishing an aquaculture operation. Habitats such as submerged aquatic vegetation, coral reefs, or mangroves should be avoided as they are sensitive to nutrient fluxes, sedimentation, and disturbance, as well as being important habitats for a variety of organisms, including many Commission-managed species. Additionally, it’s important to consider if a particular location will have spatial conflicts with other individuals that use the area, namely fishermen, boaters, or landowners. Since there are many misconceptions about the impacts of aquaculture, it is important to raise awareness about both the potential benefits and adverse impacts to the public or any stakeholders that may be involved.

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Reference (open access):
Aquaculture: Effects on Fish Habitat Along the Atlantic Coast. Enhancing, preserving, and protecting Atlantic diadromous, estuarine, and coastal fish habitats
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, Habitat Management Series #16 Spring 2020. 20 p. 

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