During the month of October we celebrate National Seafood Month, and seafood is certainly worth celebrating! Seafood is not only important to our nation’s food security and coastal economies, it is a critical part of a healthy diet. Seafood production requires the sacrifice, adaptability, and innovation of our seafood industry, and so we honor those who bring savory seafood to our dinner plates from their boats and working waterfronts.
Seafood is personal for me. Fishing traditions are deeply interwoven in my family history. I was raised in a commercial fishing family along the North Carolina coast. For many generations, my family had to weather storms, innovate new ways to fish, adjust target species due to management policies, and find work when environmental changes made it hard to make a living. My family’s story is not unique — it can be told all along our vast coastlines, and it is why this month we celebrate the people, the hard work, and the seafood we all love.
The U.S. is recognized as a global leader in responsibly managed fisheries, but market demand for seafood exceeds sustainable wild harvesting. This has been the case for quite a few years, which has spurred the growth of the aquaculture industry. We are now witnessing the remarkable advancement of technology to farm shellfish (oysters, clams, and mussels) and algae (seaweed and kelp) in coastal estuaries, as well as finfish farms, in the ocean. While we have many challenges ahead of us, we are confident that through innovation and resolute conservation, the U.S. can become a global leader in sustainable seafood that is wild-caught and farmed.
So what is the National Ocean Service’s seafood mission? We develop innovative aquaculture planning and siting tools such as OceanReports and the National AquaMapper. We assist coastal managers and industry partners with our science assessments and policy analyses, and we develop forecasting tools capable of keeping seafood safe.
So, let’s celebrate! Let’s celebrate NOS’s vital role in seafood and in aquaculture.
James A. Morris, Jr., Ph.D.
National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science