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National Ag Week 2020 – Celebrating Aquaculture

National Ag Week is from March 22-28, 2020. This year’s theme is “Ag Brings Everybody to the Table”. More people are staying home and spending time with family right now so this theme resonates with the times. Here in Florida, an aspect of agriculture that most people might not think about is aquaculture. Aquaculture is an important part of the Florida economy.

Categories of Aquaculture in Florida

Florida Sea Grant is involved in research and Extension for many categories of aquaculture in the state. Aquaponics, shellfish aquaculture, baitfish aquaculture, and restoration aquaculture are just a couple of those categories.

Aquaponics is a combination of fish farming and hydroponics. In an aquaponics system, fish waste supplies nutrients to plants. These systems produce both vegetables or fruit and fish for the consumer to eat.

Aquaponics infographic created by Florida Sea Grant

Shellfish aquaculture in Florida includes hard clams, oysters, and sunray venus clams. Hard clam culture has expanded over the past three decades to support over 300 growers in over 10 Florida coastal counties. The industry is valued at $20 million.

Baitfish aquaculture research is working to develop this industry as a profitable alternative to the wild-caught bait fishery.

Restoration aquaculture includes work on restoring sponges, bay scallops, and oysters throughout Florida. This type of aquaculture grows marine plants and animals such as coral, sponges, oysters and marsh grasses. The animals and plants will be put back into coastal ecosystems to increase declining populations and improve the health of those ecosystems.

The next time you hear the word agriculture, think about the importance of aquaculture in Florida and the many different categories of aquaculture being done here in Florida.

Economics of Aquaculture

Here are some economic facts from 2018 Census of Aquaculture in the United States and Florida:

  • Total sales of U.S. aquaculture products was $1.5 billion
  • In Florida, the total number of farms that reported aquaculture sales was 325, accounting for 11% of the farms in the U.S.
  • In Florida, 115 farms reported $16 million in sales of mollusks
  • Hard clams accounted for 89% of the sales, with 95 farms reporting sales of $14.3 million
  • Eastern oysters reported sales of $1.25 million from 16 farms

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