Aquaculture Industry Facts
Aquaculture is a vibrant international industry, supplying aquatic organisms to people worldwide for eating, sport or business purposes. Many people believe the fish delivered to their plate at their favorite restaurant came from a wild, natural location, but the truth is aquaculture is responsible for about half of the annual fishery production in the world.
The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service has reported there were a total of 4,309 aquaculture farms in the United States in 2005 with nearly US$1.1 trillion in sales. Of that, the largest segment was food fish, with 1,847 farms and US$672,377,000 in sales. Sport fish had 303 farms with US$18,126,000, bait fish had 257 farms and US$38,018,000, ornamental fish had 358 farms and US$51,297,000, crustaceans had 925 farms with US$53,381,000 and mollusks came in at 980 farms and US$203,183,000 in sales.
The same findings indicate 1,160 of the food fish farms produced were catfish, with sales of US$461,885,000. The highest sales figures for mollusks were oysters, at US$102,896,000 and 589 farms and clams, at US$84,874,000 from 553 farms.
The top five U.S. states in terms of number of fish farms are all southern states. Louisiana leads the way with 873 farms, followed by Mississippi with 403, Florida with 359, Alabama with 215 and Arkansas with 211.
But aquaculture is a global industry. The United States is a net importer of seafood.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported worldwide production of 18,944,071 tons of carp, catfish and other barbells valued at US$20,265,387,000 in 2007. Salmon and trout production was 2,302,358 tons with a value of US$11,248,013,000, while seaweed production, classified as brown, red and green, totaled over 12,000,000 tons and US$6,000,000,000.
The other top figures were for fresh water crustaceans, at 1,337,082 tons and US$6,013,776,000 and tilapia, at 2,505,465 tons and US$3,298,643,000.
Producing all that seafood requires much human involvement. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported in 2004 that the number of individuals worldwide whose primary employment came from aquaculture and fisheries was about 38 million in 2002. Only about one-third were full-time workers, while the rest were seasonal or part-time employed. That figure was about three percent of worldwide agriculture employment. China had one-third of that total, with Asia in general covering eighty-five percent of all jobs.