Fostering Responsible Aquaculture

Florida Sea Grant supports research and extension to grow sustainable aquaculture in the state and reap its social, economic, and environmental benefits.

Clam fishermen processing clams in Cedar Key, Florida. UF/IFAS Photo

Florida is a major aquaculture producer in the United States and is among the leading states in terms of sales and number of aquaculture farms. Aquaculture in Florida is diverse; the method is used to produce food and other commercial products, restore habitat and replenish wild stocks, and rebuild populations of threatened and endangered species.

Aquaculture can involve both marine and freshwater species and environments. In Florida, freshwater aquaculture is dominated by the production of ornamental fish in manmade ponds for the home aquarium industry. Florida Sea Grant’s efforts primarily focus on marine aquaculture (farming species that live in the ocean and estuaries), which is dominated by shellfish (especially hard clams). Emerging marine industry sectors include restoration, ornamentals, baitfish, aquaponics (using fish waste as nutrients for growing plants without soil), and open ocean aquaculture.

Aquaculture Research, Technologies & Literacy

The potential for the use of current and developing new technologies is tremendous, but growth will ultimately be determined by the perceived value of the products and benefits, which is why Florida Sea Grant is also working on improving literacy and providing workforce development opportunities with respect to aquaculture.

Florida Sea Grant agents and researchers are:

  • Applying restoration aquaculture practices to re-establish corals, bay scallops, oysters, sponges and clams by supporting the grow out and transplant into the wild to increase declining populations and improve the health of coastal ecosystems.
  • Providing direct support to current and potential growers on production practices, permitting, and financial and business considerations. Investment analysis tools also allow current and potential producers to estimate the costs and profitability of different production systems and market conditions.
  • Developing technologies and practices to expand marine fish farming with a focus on high-valued reef fish and finfish in support of increasing the domestic supply of seafood.
  • Communicating with the public about growth in marine aquaculture, including benefits of an expanding Blue Economy, using science-based predictions and outcomes. Increasing literacy around aquaculture production technologies will be critical to facilitate the development of this fledgling industry in Florida.
  • Training seafood industry professionals on food safety as ensured through HAACP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) curriculums. An aquaculture-specific program, created and delivered in partnership with the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) and the Seafood HACCP Alliance (SHA), will provide confidence in the safety of fish and seafood produced using aquaculture.
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& Initiatives

Florida Aqua Talks

The Florida #AquaTalk series, hosted by our UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant agents and researchers, introduces viewers
to the various types of aquaculture happening around Florida.
seafood on ice for sale

Seafood Virtual Office Hour

Drop in with food and aquaculture experts answering your seafood-related questions live.

Introductory Information About Aquaponics

Interested in freshwater or marine aquaponics? Before you start your own aquaponics system, browse this curated resource repository that addresses what to know and plan for before you dive in.

headshot of laura tiu
Featured Agent

Dr. Laura

County Extension Agent,
Walton County

Benefiting ecosystems & industry in times of need

During the 2020 pandemic, the Florida Sea Grant-funded Clam Buyback program helped bolster the aquaculture industry when it was in dire need. It increased the number and genetic diversity of clams that restoration efforts could release in the Indian River Lagoon and improved the degraded ecosystem.

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Faculty Experts

Looking for answers or resources on aquaculture? Reach out to our faculty experts listed below.