Sustainable Marine Aquaculture Ecosystems seeks partners in three areas of development of sustainable marine aquaculture ecosystems: (1) sustainable marine cage aquaculture ecosystems (2) sustainable shellfish aquaculture ecosystems, and (3) seaweed aquaculture for production of sea vegetables.

1.  Sustainable cage aquaculture ecosystems in nearshore marine coastal areas


Costa-Pierce, B.A. 2008. An ecosystem approach to marine aquaculture: A global review, p. 81-116. In: Soto, D. et al. (eds). Building An Ecosystem Approach to Aquaculture. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Proceedings 14. Rome, Italy. 221p.

FAO. 2010. Aquaculture development. 5. Ecosystem approach to aquaculture (EAA). FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries. No. 5, Suppl. 4. Rome, FAO. 53p.

2.  Sustainable Shellfish Aquaculture Ecosystems

National Research Council. 2010. Ecosystem Concepts for Sustainable Bivalve Mariculture. Washington: National Academies Press, Washington, DC.

For non-fed shellfish aquaculture, there has been a convergence over the past 10 years or so around the notion that user conflicts in shellfish aquaculture have been resolved due to not only technological advances but also to a growing global science/NGO consensus that shellfish aquaculture can “fit in” in an environmentally and socially responsible manner, and into many coastal environments, many of which are already crowded with existing users. Included in this “evolution” of shellfish aquaculture are the following:

(1) development of submerged technologies for shellfish aquaculture such as longlines, modified rack and bag shellfish gear, and upwellers for nursery stages of shellfish, some of
which are placed unobtrusively under floating docks at marinas,

(2) scientific findings and reviews demonstrating the environmental benefits of shellfish aquacultureproviding vital ecosystem and social services such as nutrient removal and habitat enhancement,

(3) research on natural and social carrying capacities for shellfish aquaculture, and  sophisticated, collaborative work group processes,

(4) development and wide use by industry of best (and better) management practices,

(5) diversification of traditional wild harvest fishing/shellfishing families into shellfish aquaculture as part-time enterprises, breaking down barriers between fishing and aquaculture
user communities,

(6) publication of global comparisons with fed aquaculture indicating a strong movement in shellfish aquaculture globally toward an adoption of ecological approaches to aquaculture at all scales of society.

3.  Sea vegetables

Edible seaweeds (“sea vegetables”) are an important part of the traditional Asian diet, and consumption is growing in Europe and North America. There are important wild harvests for human food in Canada, Maine and Rhode Island (see examples Acadian Seaplants, Maine Coast Sea Vegetables and She Sells Seaweed). Dulse, Kelp, Digitata, Alaria, Nori, Sea Lettuce, Bladderwrack, and Gracilaria are commonly harvested from the wild. As an example of how valuable seaweeds are as human foods, Norziah and Ching (2000) studied the nutritional composition of Gracilaria and made comparisons to the nutrient values of several commonly consumed local vegetables. Gracilaria had high levels of vitamin A, calcium, iron, and b-carotene. Gracilaria’s b-carotene content was higher than Chinese cabbage, pumpkin, chillies, tomatoes and lettuce, and was comparable to mint leaves and spinach. Omega fatty acids are rarely found in terrestrial plant foods. Gracilaria seaweed is rich in these omega fatty acids, having 74% of its fatty acids as unsaturated fatty acids, ad with relatively high levels of eicosapentaenoic acid, a compound widely recognized as beneficial to human health.

Small scale seaweed aquaculture for the production of human foods has great potential for coastal communities worldwide. In Maine, Ocean Approved has pioneered the farming and production of sea vegetables from kelp.


FAO. 2006. Seaweeds Used as Human Food. FAO, Rome, Italy.

Norziah, M.H.  and Ching, C.Y. 2000. Nutritional composition of edible seaweed Gracilaria changgi. Food Chemistry 68(1): 69-76.

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