October is National Seafood Month

Florida’s fisheries

Recreational and commercial fisheries, or wild caught, are big business in the state of Florida. You may have heard that Florida is the “fishing capitol of the world.” How do we know that?  Annual impacts in Florida from fishing exceed $7.6 billion. In the 19/20 fiscal year, 1.5 million recreational saltwater fishing licenses were sold. Recreational saltwater and freshwater fisheries support 120,000 jobs in our state. Moreover, about 90 MILLION pounds of seafood is commercially landed here on an annual basis! Florida supplies about 84% of the United States’ supply of grouper, mullet, stone crab, pink shrimp, and spiny lobster (https://myfwc.com/conservation/value/saltwater-fishing/). All of that means that we have a lot of seafood at our fingertips. Here are some important things to know about seafood.


Freshly harvested clams. Photo: UF/IFAS

Aquaculture, or fish farming, provides more than half of the fish consumed by humans around the world (Camp et al. 2020, Moffit & Cajas-Cano 2014, Ottinger et al. 2016). If you have ever eaten salmon or tilapia, chances are, it was produced via aquaculture. While the majority of Florida’s aquaculture activities involve tropical ornamental fish, two other food-related industries include alligator farming and shellfish farming (clams and oysters). Marine finfish aquaculture is a relatively small industry in the United States and Florida, but academic institutions like the University of Florida and University of Miami are exploring approaches to expanding this field to feed more Floridians as well as people around the world. As Florida’s population continues to grow, the practice of aquaculture will be a critical supplement to our wild-caught fisheries.

Seafood sustainability

Harrington (2016) defines sustainability as “the capacity to maintain or improve the state and availability of desirable materials or conditions over the long term.” In order for our society to maintain a sustainable seafood supply, the following factors should be considered.

For wild-caught fisheries (recreational and commercial):

  • Adhering to current state and federal fishing regulations
  • Committing to best fishing practices
  • Taking care when fishing over sensitive habitats (i.e. coral reefs and seagrass beds)

For aquaculture:

  • Working with local Extension offices and Research centers to apply best available science to their practices
  • Utilizing the most sustainable feed choices-pellets or other fish feed (not wild fish)

For consumers:

  • Purchasing locally caught products while dining out
  • Making informed choices when selecting seafood products at a supermarket
  • Consulting Monterey Bay Seafood Watch for most sustainable seafood species

    Plates of a Sun Ray Venus clam appetizer dish. Photo: UF/IFAS

Seafood is a great source of protein and can help provide a balanced diet. Whether you are purchasing it at a store, catching it fresh, or treating yourself at a restaurant, consider steps that you can take while simultaneously enjoying it as well as contributing to the long-term health of this industry.

Happy National Seafood Month!



Camp, E., Garlock, E., Anderson, J. 2020. Opportunities and Obstacles to Aquaculture in Florida. University of Florida/IFAS Extension EDIS journal. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/FA221

Harrington, L. 2016. Sustainability Theory and Conceptual Considerations: A Review of Key Ideas for Sustainability, and the Rural Context. Papers in Applied Geography 2(4) 365-382

Moffitt, C. M., and L. Cajas-Cano. 2014. Blue Growth: The 2014 FAO State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture. Fisheries 39(11): 552–553

Ottinger, M., K. Clauss, and C. Kuenzer. 2016. Aquaculture: Relevance, Distribution, Impacts and Spatial Assessments—A Review. Ocean & Coastal Management 119: 244–266


Posted: October 18, 2022


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