NOAA released two Atlases compiling the best available science to inform the identification of Aquaculture Opportunity Areas (AOAs) in the Gulf of Mexico and Southern California. 

NOAA previously identified these regions for their potential to host sustainable commercial aquaculture development in the United States. Areas in the Atlases will have characteristics expected to support multiple types of aquaculture industries including finfish, shellfish, seaweed, or some combination.

“The aquaculture Atlases apply the latest ocean data and information to advance sustainable business development,” said Gina M. Raimondo, U.S. Secretary of Commerce. 

“These are the most advanced spatial analyses ever performed for any U.S. ocean regions,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, Assistant Administrator of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “The Atlases are powerful scientific tools that will help advance food security for all Americans and improve sustainable food production, which is critical for the economic and environmental resilience of our coastal communities.”

NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science developed each Atlas using more than 200 data layers accounting for key environmental, economic, social, and cultural considerations, including fishing interests and marine protected areas. The studies identified nine areas in the Gulf of Mexico and 10 areas in the Southern California Bight that may be suitable for aquaculture, while also reducing conflicts with other ocean uses.

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