When Florida’s commercial fishing businesses were declining, Florida Sea Grant collaborated with other entities to build a new hard clam aquaculture industry near Cedar Key, Fla. where about 80 percent of Florida’s clam farming now occurs. The industry has a statewide economic impact of over $50 million, supporting more than 550 jobs in Cedar Key alone.
In addition to supporting the clam farming industry in Cedar Key, Florida Sea Grant researchers are working on a new aquaculture opportunity–baitfish. Baitfish may provide the potential for expansion and diversification of aquaculture within the state, thanks to Florida’s multimillion dollar recreational fishing industry.
As Floridians’ demand for food that is “farm-to-table” increases, Florida Sea Grant agents and researchers are working to develop technology to expand marine fish farming and aquaponics to inland locations. Additionally, as leases open up in the Gulf of Mexico for open-ocean aquaculture operations, Florida Sea Grant researchers are evaluating the environmental impact of these farms to ensure our seafood meets consumer expectations for safe and sustainable choices.