Science and Research

NOAA Science has been fulfilling NOAA's legal mandate to address environmental impacts of aquaculture.  Together with industry and non-governmental organizations, NOAA scientists at both the Northwest Fisheries Science Center and the South West Fisheries Science Center have been exploring a variety of technologies and other developments that can be used both domestically and internationally.

Shellfish: NOAA's science has substantially increased  our understanding and ability to monitor and mitigate the various threats to the production and marketability of West Coast's valuable shellfish.  NOAA scientists are developing a sophisticated ocean monitoring system that provides the real time information shellfish growers need to strategically manage hatchery operations, and are continuing laboratory studies of the biological effects of ocean acidification on cultured species.  NOAA is also restoring native oyster habitat and developing powerful, predictive tools to forcast dangerous algal blooms or pathogens that can contaminate shellfish in Puget Sound.

Commercial Finfish Aquaculture:  NOAA has published two scientific technical memorandums analyzing the effects of net pen Atlantic salmon farming in the Pacific Northwest (Nash 2001, Waknitz 2002).  Together, these documents assess the risks associated with salmon farming, identify best management practices to minimize risks, and find no harm to ESA-listed salmonids from the operations of existing farms.  Additionally, NOAA has produced reports on Alternative Feeds and Genetic Risks for finfish aquaculture.

Rockfish Restoration:  Three species of Puget Sound rockfish have been listed under the Endangered Species Act.  Promoting the restoration of depleted stocks to sustainable levels through the appropriate use of hatchery programs and artificial habitats is a key provision of the state recovery plan.  NOAA has successfully spawned and reared native rockfish species using aquacuture.

Lingcod Enhancement:  could be a candidate species for enhancement. Lingcod is one of 90+ species managed through the policies of the Pacific Fishery Management Council's Groundfish Fishery Management Plan. Researchers at NOAA have demonstrated that they can successfully rear lingcod in captivity with high survival after release into the wild.

Macroalgae Culture: Macroalgae is a "green" product that can be reared with minimal energy input, can utilize organic fertilizers based on fish processing wastes, and has very low nutrient discharges.  It offers significant economic development potential for rural coastal areas. Current research is focused on the production of fresh macroalgae in a land-based system.