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NCCOS Project

AquaSpace – An Ecosystem Approach to Making Space for Sustainable Aquaculture

This project began in March 2015 and is projected to be completed in March 2018

Aquaculture is a large and growing segment of seafood production because capture fisheries production continues to decline. A major challenge to the expansion of marine aquaculture in most nations is siting and subsequent expansion of aquaculture operations. We are developing tools to address spatial planning issues relating to aquaculture in the context of use conflicts and a changing environment.

Why We Care
Recent aquaculture statistics show that global capture fisheries are declining and that more than 40 percent of seafood products now originate from aquaculture. The U.S. is the top global importer of seafood. More than 90 percent of seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported, and at least 50 percent of that is aquaculture product.

It is estimated that by 2050, given projected world population growth, an additional 30 metric tons a year of seafood will be required to feed the planet. Aquaculture is a large and growing industry trying to make up the deficit. However, there are obstacles to aquaculture siting in coastal and marine waters, including spatial use conflicts and other social, environmental, and economic factors that inhibit development of the aquaculture industry.

What We Are Doing
Our multi-national project team includes collaborations with the aquaculture industry, other stakeholders, and coastal managers and planners in the European Economic Area (EEA) and beyond to develop a range of tools to enable effective implementation of aquaculture operations that both take into account marine spatial issues and support expansion of the aquaculture industry. While this is a European Union (E.U.)–focused project, an NCCOS eutrophication assessment model will be applied in several E.U. case studies and recent results from NCCOS projects on siting and water quality benefits of shellfish aquaculture at U.S. sites will be used to broaden the geographic scope of the AquaSpace project from the E.U. to the U.S.

Benefits of Our Work
The framework for spatial analysis and the tools to conduct the analysis will be transferable and used by growers and permitting agencies in the E.U. and the U.S. to promote aquaculture for seafood supply and economic stimulation of the aquaculture sector in such a way to reduce spatial conflicts and with the intent of maintaining or improving water quality at aquaculture sites. This will help the aquaculture industry provide needed seafood for a growing global population.

Additional Resources

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Products, Datasets & Reports

Peer-Reviewed Publications

  • Bricker, S.B., K.C. Rice, O.P. Bricker III. 2014. From Headwaters to Coast: Influence of Human Activities on Water Quality of the Potomac River Estuary. Aquat Geochem 20:291–324.
  • Rose, J.M., S.B. Bricker, J.G. Ferreira. 2015. Modeling shellfish farms to predict harvest-based nitrogen removal. Marine Pollution Bulletin 91: 185–190.

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