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U.S. States With the Largest Aquaculture Industry


U.S. States With the Largest Aquaculture Industry

With the planet’s population growing and the global market for seafood steadily increasing, natural fish production from the world’s lakes, rivers, and oceans will be insufficient to keep up with demand in the long term. To support global demand, aquaculture is a critical resource for raising seafood efficiently and sustainably.

The USDA defines aquaculture as the farming of aquatic organisms, including fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and more. The farming process includes seeding, stocking, and feeding fish, shellfish, and other aquatic products in a controlled environment. The controlled environment makes aquaculture distinct from wild caught seafood taken from a natural habitat.

Aquaculture in the U.S. represents a $1.5 billion industry annually and helps support 1.7 million jobs in the broader seafood industry, according to estimates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These figures place the U.S. relatively low on a global scale as an aquaculture producer—17th in total aquaculture production—but the U.S. is one of the top consumers of aquaculture imports. More than 90% of seafood in the U.S. comes from outside of the country, and around half of that total comes from farm-raised seafood.

These products in the U.S. that generate the most sales fall in the categories of food fish and mollusks. Food fish—a category that includes any fish raised primarily for food, such as catfish, sturgeon, tilapia, trout, or salmon—accounts for nearly half of the market by itself, with $716 million in sales each year. Mollusks—which are marine invertebrates like clams, mussels, and oysters also commonly raised as food—follow behind at $442 million sold each year.

Naturally, a successful aquaculture industry depends on access to geographic features that support production. This means that some regions of the U.S. are more conducive to aquaculture than others. The South leads the U.S. in production, with nearly $850 million in annual sales from aquaculture. This can be attributed to strong production of freshwater fish, especially catfish, in the areas around the Mississippi River watershed, and saltwater production in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. The West produces $475 million in aquaculture sales each year, primarily from Washington and California, which are leaders in shellfish production but also have strong saltwater and freshwater production of fish like trout, tilapia, and salmon.

The data used in this analysis is from the USDA’s Census of Aquaculture. To identify the states with the most aquaculture production, researchers at ranked states based on the total value of aquaculture products sold. Aquaculture products include food fish, sport fish, baitfish, and ornamental fish, as well as mollusks, crustaceans, and other miscellaneous aquaculture products. The total acreage by state reported in this study is the sum of freshwater and saltwater production (where available), and the most common water source is the water source characteristic of the greatest number of farms in each state.

Here are the states with the largest aquaculture industry.



   Total value of products sold

Total number of aquaculture farms

Total acres

Most common water source

Mississippi    1    $215,709,000 176 39,561 Groundwater
Washington    2    $207,685,000 151 16,263 Saltwater
Louisiana    3    $135,712,000 525 240,274 Groundwater
Virginia    4    $112,640,000 202 17,797 Saltwater
California    5    $106,021,000 116 11,329 Groundwater
Alabama    6    $95,199,000 120 17,591 On-farm surface water
Hawaii    7    $78,429,000 49 794 Saltwater
Maine    8    $72,340,000 75 1,295 Saltwater
Florida    9    $71,649,000 334 3,410 Saltwater
Arkansas    10    $67,661,000 82 29,936 Groundwater
Texas    11    $62,594,000 107 7,566 Groundwater
Idaho    12    $44,763,000 41 498 On-farm surface water
Massachusetts    13    $28,858,000 180 1,046 Saltwater
Maryland    14    $28,139,000 43 2,318 Saltwater
North Carolina    15    $26,006,000 137 2,909 Groundwater
United States    –    $1,515,680,000 3,456 484,000 Groundwater


For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on’s website:

food systems

Striving for Sustainability in Global Food Systems

As the global community gears up for the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, it is significant that preparations are also underway by Global Reporting Initiative to deliver a new sector reporting standard for agriculture, aquaculture, and fishing. The Summit aims to leverage the power of food systems to deliver progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet, unlocking the contribution of companies in the food production sectors will be impossible without clarity on their sustainable development impacts.

As part of GRI’s Sector Program, which aims to deliver 40 Sector Standards over the coming years, the exposure draft version of the Sector Standard for Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Fishing is currently out for public comment. The Sector Program has a remit to provide the global best practice for transparency within sectors, helping organizations meet stakeholder expectations for comprehensive and comparable sustainability reporting.

We are prioritizing agriculture, aquaculture and fishing because these sectors provide for basic and essential societal needs: food, most obviously, but also raw materials, such as fibers and fuels. They also have shared and overlapping materiality, which steered our rationale for bringing them under one umbrella.

The Standard will add to the reporting landscape for the sectors, bridging the gap on sector topics where stakeholder expectations are evolving and scrutiny is increasing. It will deliver disclosures that consider biodiversity and natural resources, measures to mitigate climate change, as well as how to adapt farming and fishing practices in ways that minimize their negative impacts.

This focus closely dovetails with the objectives of the Food Systems Summit, for which the pre-summit activity starts in July. The UN articulates the aims as ensuring access to safe and nutritious food for all; shifting to sustainable consumption patterns; boosting nature-positive production; advancing equitable livelihoods; and building resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks, and stress.

Research and rationale

The draft Standard’s content is the culmination of more than 12 months of rigorous research by our Sector Team, drawing on authoritative sources and a multi-stakeholder process. A 19-member expert working group was instrumental in developing the exposure draft. Reflecting diverse backgrounds, it includes representatives from five continents and constituencies, with a unique combination of sectoral skills and organizational experience, including crop and animal production, aquaculture, and fishing.

The proposed Sector Standard will help companies increase recognition and understanding on their shared sustainability challenges. It includes relevant reporting topics that are covered by GRI’s (sector-agnostic) topic-Specific Standards – for example, climate adaptation, biodiversity, waste, food safety, and occupational health – as well as introducing seven new topics.

By including topics not covered by existing GRI Standards, we have expanded the breadth of reporting guidance for agriculture, aquaculture, and fishing organizations to identify their most significant impacts – thereby supporting decision-useful data that can be a catalyst for the adoption of more sustainable practices.

The seven new topics

The newly introduced topics in the draft Standard are:

1. Food security recognizes the sectors’ central role in food production, guiding organizations to describe commitments to ensure their operations contribute to the stability of food supply and access to food, including how they work with other organizations.

2. Land and resource rights calls on companies to report how they respect individuals’ and communities’ land rights (including those of indigenous people). It also asks about their operations and suppliers whose access or rights to natural resources cannot be assured.

3. Living income addresses whether companies provide enough for workers and producers supplying to them to afford a decent standard of living. The topic also deals with reporting on the proportion of employees paid above living wage.

4. Natural ecosystem conversion covers policies, commitments and monitoring tools to reduce or eliminate activities that change natural ecosystems to another use or profoundly change an ecosystem’s structure or function.

5. Soil health guides reporting on soil management plans and fertilizer application.

6. Pesticides use focuses on how organizations manage and use chemical or biological substances for controlling pests or regulating plant growth.

7. Animal health and welfare addresses the approach to animal health planning and use of welfare certification schemes or audits, as well as disclosing the use of any medicinal or hormone treatments.

Grounded in the SDGs

With positive and negative impacts that link to the SDGs, all of the topics covered in this Sector Standard, and the way it is structured, will make it easier for businesses to understand their contribution to the achievement of the SDGs – and how they can contribute towards solutions.

Perhaps more than any other sector, agriculture, aquaculture, and fishing organizations have wide-ranging impacts that touch on all of the 17 SDGs. In particular, this new Standard makes multiple linkages between topics and goals on ending poverty (Goal 1); ending hunger (Goal 2); ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation (Goal 6); promoting decent work for all (Goal 8); reducing inequalities (Goal 10); ensuring sustainable consumption and production (Goal 12); taking climate action (Goal 13); protecting life below water (Goal 14) and life on land (Goal 15); ensuring peace and justice (Goal 16); and building partnerships (Goal 17).

We need your input

The global public comment period to gather feedback on the exposure draft for Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Fishing Sector Standard closes on 30 July. We encourage you to channel your considerations on this draft’s feasibility, completeness, and relevancy by completing an online questionnaire. The more input from all interested groups and stakeholders, the more we can do to ensure the delivery of a Standard that is fit-for-purpose.

Our hope for the final Standard, which we intend to launch in 2022, is to empower organizations to achieve meaningful and consistent sustainability reporting that supports sustainable food systems and encourages responsible fishing and farming practices. We all know that companies within these sectors are essential for providing the food and resources that human wellbeing depends on. Let’s ensure that they can do so in a way that contributes to lasting and sustainable solutions.



Margarita Lysenkova joined GRI Standards Division in 2019 and has been instrumental in the development of the new Sector Program, contributing to the GRI Oil and Gas Sector Standard and leading the pilot project for the Sector Standard for Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Fishing.

With a professional background in corporate, UN and non-for-profit sectors across four countries, Margarita’s expertise spans international labour standards and sustainability. Previous roles include working for the International Labour Organization in Geneva, and in financial reporting with a Belgian multinational. Margarita holds degrees in economics (Saint Petersburg University of Economics & Finance) and business management (ESC Rennes School of Business).


Global Reporting Initiative is the independent, international organization that helps businesses and other organizations take responsibility for their impacts, by providing the global common language to report those impacts – the GRI Standards.

food sector

Food Sector Faces Multipronged Consequences of COVID-19 Outbreak

Brick and mortar, as well as online food chains, are facing the wrath of the current COVID-19 outbreak. The worldwide supply chain includes distribution, packaging, as well as sourcing of raw materials. Lockdowns are disrupting the transportation of packaged foods, prepared foods, non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. Before the pandemic, the major growth drivers were growing consumption of ready-to-eat convenience foods among on-the-go consumers.

Shifting lifestyle patterns, rising per capita income, and a growing population have been the prominent growth-enhancing factors associated with the food sector prior to the outbreak. However, shutdowns of restaurants and quick service facilities due to lockdowns have hindered the growth of the food & beverage industry to a large extent.

Online Food Orders Surge as Offline Food Chains Struggle to Cope with COVID-19

In view of the dual nature of the food industry, the impact of COVID-19 is multifaceted on online and offline food chains. The offline food chain comprises of cafes and restaurants that have been shut down across the globe. However, online food deliveries remain operational in most of the regions. The packaged food industry, in particular, is witnessing prolific demand for milk products and shelf-stable foods. As consumers hurry to fill their pantries, the demand is projected to surge even further. Almost every region of the world has been affected by the coronavirus crisis, namely, Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, and the rest of the world. An example of how supply chains were gravely affected is derived from Coca Cola Co.

The carbonated beverage giant, sources raw material from China where the outbreak surfaced in early December of 2019. During the initial days of the pandemic, the company faced a great deal of difficulty in managing the frontend of its supply chain. The production, supply, and export of raw materials from China were delayed due to which the company now solely relies on its suppliers in the US for sourcing sucralose. The major companies in the food & beverages industry affected by coronavirus outbreak include Subway Restaurants Inc., Starbucks Corp., PepsiCo Inc., Papa John’s International Inc., McDonald’s Corp., KFC Corp., International Dairy Queen Inc., Dunkin’ Donuts LLC, Domino’s Pizza, Inc., and Burger King Corp. For instance, Starbucks had to shut down about 2,000 outlets in mainland China after the pandemic began to spread like wildfire.

Livelihoods and Lives at Risk from COVID-19 Pandemic

The looming food crisis amid trade disruptions, quarantines, and border closures continues to endanger both livelihoods and lives worldwide. The huge imbalance between supply and demand resulted from economic shock in the midst of the widespread shutdown of businesses. The uncertainty surrounding the eventual retreat of the COVID-19 pandemic is adding to the crisis. Fast and effective measures are required to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on the vulnerable food supply chain.

Nutritious and diverse food sources are in short supply in the wake of the global health crisis. Furthermore, greater food insecurity is prevalent in regions hit hard by COVID-19 such as Spain, Italy, and the US. However, there is still the need for anyone to panic about the food crisis as the world has adequate stock of it. The only problem is making it accessible to every section of the society amid strict lockdown.

What Has the World Learned from History?

The 2007-2008 food crisis offered the world some important lessons which can be utilized to avoid letting a health crisis turn into an indispensable food crisis. Policymakers worldwide are intent on not repeating their mistakes of the past. As the measures tighten around the pandemic, it will be even more challenging to prevent the downfall of the global food system. Logistics bottlenecks are a major challenge facing the globe at present. The global food industry is certainly strained in terms of transport and accessibility.

So far food supply has been sufficient thereby disruptions have been minimal. However, the production of high-value commodities such as vegetables and fruits has declined. Hence, governments, especially in India, aim to restart the agriculture activities in parts during the harvest season.

What Does the Immediate Future Hold for Food Sector?

The food supply chain disruption is expected to continue through at least May 2020 as new cases of COVID-19 continue to rise. Movement restrictions will continue for at least two more months in various parts of world, which is why minimizing bottlenecks will remain crucial for major manufacturers in the food industry. Agricultural production, on the other hand, will be affected by a shortage of veterinary medicines, fertilizers, and other inputs. Moreover, demand for seafood products and fresh produce will continue to decline in view of less grocery shopping and closure of restaurants. In particular, aquaculture and agriculture sectors are among the most adversely affected by the pandemic. Canned seafood and other frozen food products will be on the other hand in demand. The suspension of school meals in emerging nations in India is another area facing the brunt of the COVID-19 outbreak.

One thing is certain: the poorest sections of the society including the migrant workers will be the worst affected by the pandemic. In India, migrant workers are terrified of dying from hunger even before the pandemic can strike. Feeding millions of poor families is a daunting task being faced by the government of India. Individuals continue to contribute their part to help the vulnerable ones. However, feeding them every day requires uninterrupted production and supply of essential food items. The food sector in developing nations will thus certainly face greater strain over the entire system in the foreseeable future.


Nandini is a senior research consultant working with Future Market Insights (FMI), a global market research and consulting firm. She has been serving clients across Food & Beverages, Pharma, and Chemical domains. Currently leading FMI’s Food & Beverages division, Nandini handles research projects in various sub-sectors, viz. Food Ingredients, Food Innovation, and Beverages. The insights presented in this article are based on FMI’s research findings on Impact of COVID-19 on Food Sector Industry of Future Market Insights

New Seafood Farm Planned Off US West Coast

Los Angeles, CA – A project is underway to develop the US West Coast’s first commercial shellfish “farm” in federal waters to grow mussels and scallops in their natural environment under closely monitored conditions to produce a high-quality product well-suited for export to markets all over the world.

Organized by Catalina Sea Ranch and planned on 100 acres located between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and Catalina Island, the  project is a joint effort with the Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, several non-profits and a number of private sector companies including Verizon.

As the project is planned in government-controlled waters, approval was sought from the US Army Corps of Engineers and California Coastal Commission, both of which gave the project a green light last January.

Mussels, scallops and several other varieties of bivalves, as well as shellfish including spiny lobsters, grow naturally off the Southern California coast. The Catalina Sea ranch plan calls for the SCMI to spawn the bivalves in an aquatic “nursery, where they’ll be held until they mature before being suspended on lines 30 feet below the surface to feed to filtered phytoplankton under constant monitoring for up to eight months before they’re harvested.

According to Catalina Sea Ranch, the 100-acre farm could produce as much as 2.5 million pounds of high-quality shellfish annually with buyers reportedly already lined-up to sell out the product for the next three years.

Much of what the “farm” produces will be tagged for export to overseas markets.

Currently, with the US importing some 91 percent of the seafood it consumes, the company feels that should the project prove to be a success that’s replicated, the US could stop importing shellfish and actually be an exporter of the seafood.