From Volume 86, Number 3 (March 2013)
Fish might be considered “brain food,” but there is nothing smart about the way the United States currently manages its seafood production. Although the U.S. government has long promoted the health benefits of products from the sea—even urging Americans to double their seafood intake—it has fallen far behind in developing a domestic source for this seafood. Currently, the United States relies on an almost primitive method for domestic seafood production: taking animals found naturally in the wild. However, this approach is no longer sustainable: most federally managed capture fisheries are either stable or declining, with forty-eight currently overfished, and forty subject to overfishing in 2010. What seafood the United States does not take from its own fisheries it imports; in 2011 the United States imported as much as 91 percent of its seafood supply. Fortunately, there is a way for the United States not only to ease the pressure on traditional fisheries—allowing them to recover—but also to provide a significant domestic source of seafood products: through the development and promotion of its domestic offshore aquaculture industry. However, this industry should not be allowed to expand free from regulation, as offshore aquaculture may have serious consequences for both marine and human environments.