Aquaculture misinformation online and on social media has become a significant issue for our industry, with inaccurate and sensationalized content circulating widely, often influencing public perceptions and decisions. Common false information often includes inaccurate claims about the use of antibiotics, poor husbandry practices, negative impacts on other ecosystems, misleading information about the nutritional value of farmed fish, and so much more. We've all seen it - and we need to start doing something about it!
Addressing this misinformation and encouraging a more accurate understanding of aquaculture's complexities and benefits has become crucial to the survival of our industry. Thankfully, many online and social media platforms have begun taking the spread of misinformation more seriously.
So what do we do? Below is a brief guide, focused on social media, of how to both report misinformation online and better represent the industry with facts, benefits, and increased transparency.
Represent the Industry with Positivity and Transparency
Not all of us have the time or resources to continually create content online and on social media. But for those who do, below are some quick tips to help represent our industry online by increasing transparency and delivering an engaging, unified message about aquaculture:
Many online and social media platforms have begun taking the spread of misinformation much more seriously. It is up to us, as industry professionals, to report misinformation when we see it. Below are instructions on how to report misinformation on today's most popular platforms:
X (formerly Twitter)
A Critical Assessment of Microplastics in Molluscan Shellfish with Recommendations for Experimental Protocols, Animal Husbandry, Publication, and Future Research
The review discusses the issue of microplastics (MP) contamination and its impact on particle-feeding molluscs. It highlights that the scientific literature on this topic has been rushed and contains numerous methodological flaws, misinterpretations, and exaggerated claims. The review provides a critical assessment of over 750 publications and finds that most have significant flaws. It also points out that while microplastics are commonly found in molluscs, the actual levels are very low and not demonstrated to pose a serious risk to human health or the shellfish themselves. The review identifies common mistakes in field and laboratory studies and emphasizes the need for rigorous, well-designed research. It also suggests that bivalve molluscs may not be reliable indicators of microplastic pollution and calls for harmonized methodologies and more stringent peer-review processes in scientific journals.
View the full paper here.
The Oregon Aquaculture Association (OAA) board of directors election has come to a close. We would like to thank you, OAA membership, for your participation in this election.
The following nine directors have been elected to the OAA Board:
Clint Bentz, Owner/operator, Blue Den Ranch
Randy Bentz, Owner/operator, Blue Den Ranch
Kathy Bridges, Past Producer, Santiam Valley Ranch
Tom Losordo, Aquaculture Engineer, Emeritus Professor North Carolina State University
Miranda Ries, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Aquaculture Division, Pacific Seafood
Kim Thompson, Executive Director, Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association
Jon Bonkoski, Senior Director of Knowledge Systems, Ecotrust
Tom MacDonald, Owner/operator, Desert Springs Trout Farm
Gary Brian, Owner/operator, Brian Trout Ranch
Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to hold promise for maintaining the lung health of people who eat them, according to a study backed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Researchers developed a two-part study, including a longitudinal, observational study of 15,063 Americans, investigating the link between omega-3 fatty acid levels in the blood and lung function over time. The study showed higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in a person’s blood were associated with a reduced rate of lung function decline, according to the NIH, with the strongest associations of positive health benefits attributed to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in high levels in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines...
Read more at SeafoodSource.com
Oregon has a long history of aquaculture, and currently produces roughly $24 million in output from a mixture of saltwater and freshwater farms. Unfortunately, Oregon’s aquaculture output lags its neighboring states. This report seeks to investigate this poor performance with three research questions:
To address these questions, our team conducted a literature review which included academic papers, government websites and reports, agency financial statements, and news articles. The literature review focuses on Oregon but also includes information on U.S. aquaculture more generally in order to study our first two research questions. Our team then interviewed seventeen aquaculture producers from seven different states including Oregon. The states were chosen using criteria based on the amount of aquaculture production and geography and specific producers were selected by convenience and snowball sampling. We used the transcripts from the interviews to examine the different barriers aquaculture producers face, as well as some of the possible solutions to these barriers...
Read the full report here.
The Kurt Grinnell Aquaculture Scholarship Foundation (KGASF) is accepting scholarship applications from members of a Tribe or First Nation and/or are involved in education, fisheries, aquaculture, or natural resource management. Each year, depending on funding availability, the KGASF awards several $5,000 (or more) scholarships. To qualify, students or prospective students must be:
The 2023 Scholarship Application Period is now open. Scholarship Applications are due by midnight on August 15, 2023. Click here to view more.
In 2022, the KGASF awarded three scholarships. The three students who received scholarship awards were:
All three students noted that the KGASF awards were very important to their ability to successfully focus on studies and learning.
This year we hope to award even more scholarships. Should you know of any deserving students, please make them aware of our scholarship program. Likewise, if you know of educators, administrators, or natural resource managers who, in turn, may know of qualified students interested in our scholarship program, please forward this email to them. Should you have any questions, please contact John Dentler, KGASF President and Treasurer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about the Kurt Grinnell Aquaculture Scholarship Foundation can be found here.
The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife in partnership with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission recently launched its new fish identification application for your mobile device. Check out the West Coast Fish ID application here!
The West Coast Fish ID application is a digital encyclopedia of common species that can be found on the North American West Coast. The application facilitates rapid identification of common fish species that are targeted in fisheries along the North American West Coast using high quality images, illustrations and lists of key characteristics. The application also provides tips for differentiating between similar species.
Report of the Oregon & Pacific Northwest Aquaculture Development Conference: Investing in the Future of Seafood
The Oregon Aquaculture Association in partnership with Oregon State University, National and Oregon Sea Grant, Business Oregon, and the US Department of Agriculture, hosted an aquaculture development conference on Oct. 4-6, 2022, on the campus of Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon. Below is a report of the conference:
The principal aim of the Aquaculture Development Conference (Conference) was to promote increased investment in sustainable aquaculture and optimize its positive economic, social, and nutritional contributions in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest (PNW). A parallel objective was to address the considerable lack of aquaculture knowledge that adversely affects the development of the sector in this region.
The underlying principle was that, if aquaculture is to develop and deliver positive benefits in the PNW as it has in many locations in the United States and the world, the status quo is no longer an option action is required.
Design & Expectations
Given the relatively low level of aquaculture investment in Oregon in particular, and the Pacific Northwest in general, the Conference sought to address key issues affecting public and private investments in aqua farming. The Conference was not meant to be an end unto itself, but the beginning of a process that will encourage greater interest and motivate individuals and firms to raise and eat more farmed seafood.
An immediate expectation from the Conference was to act as a forum for information exchange and networking. A stronger knowledge base leads to greater investment built on an enhanced understanding of the risks and benefits. It is also expected that the Conference will be catalytic, coalescing efforts, prompting action, and expanding horizons.
Major Takeaways & Proposed Action
Aquaculture and the Socioeconomy
Aquaculture is Agriculture
Fundamentally, aquaculture is agriculture. However, to much of the world, including Oregon, aquaculture is considered a new and poorly understood innovation that falls outside the definition of agriculture. Although aquatic and terrestrial farming employ the same general practices and engage with the same institutions, aquatic farming is frequently perceived as being very different. These perceptions can result in concerns about environmental impacts as well as competition for land, water, labor, markets, and other production inputs and outputs. These concerns notwithstanding, aqua farming can and should be synergistic with terrestrial farming when well planned and implemented.
Culture & Capture Fisheries
Fishermen often view aquaculture as an unwelcome neighbor, with concerns generally including aquaculture’s perceived negative impacts on wild fish stocks and competition for space and markets. However, carefully designed and implemented aquaculture investments can co-exist with commercial and recreational fisheries; aquaculture can even be complementary. Fishers and aquatic farmers do share a common market, and this market foundation can be inclusive as opposed to exclusive—market channels and processes addressing both cultured and captured products to their mutual advantage. In some instances, these alliances can even support shared processing and marketing facilities.
Aqua Farming & the Environment
There are justifiable environmental and ecological concerns about aquaculture, as there are for most agricultural or industrial activities. Regrettably, there have been cases where negative impacts have occurred, though most of these cases were ultimately transformative, catalyzing significant effort to improve policies and practices. When planned and operated under the guidance of effective environmental regulations and industry best practices, aquatic farms can and do have a very modest ecological footprint, often smaller than other forms of food production.
Aquaculture and Investing
Markets & Marketing
Markets are a critical, if not the most critical, element that should frame any aquaculture investment. Many investors adopt the “if you grow it, they will come” philosophy only to find that this is most often not the case. Markets must be thoroughly researched to identify suitable marketing strategies prior to investing; the costs for these essential actions should be included as part of the overall pre-investment expenses.
Places & Practices
Aqua farming cannot be practiced anywhere or everywhere. Aquaculture can be complex and involves a wide variety of crops and production technologies. This diversity of the aquaculture sector can provide significant individual and community benefits, but it also imposes many requirements on the siting of production facilities. With this complexity comes the need to determine how to best integrate locations, technologies, and practices. Every farm is site specific, and every site has a set of practices that are best for the prevailing conditions. Matching the site, technologies, and markets requires specialized knowledge, external support, and detailed preparation.
Business and Farm Planning
Aquaculture is one of many types of agribusinesses undertaken by farmers around the world. In numerous ways, it resembles many other farm enterprises. It requires market development, specialized materials, a trained workforce, regulatory compliance, as well as finely honed management skills. A comprehensive business and farm plan is an absolute prerequisite for investments that have a significant chance for success.
Aquaculture and Institutions
The government’s role in aquaculture is usually that of policy maker and regulator. In many investors’ views, government means convoluted and costly regulations. Nonetheless, there is general agreement that some level of regulation and oversight is necessary. Regulatory processes can be streamlined by involving operators when outlining regulatory procedures, establishing a one-stop-shop to coordinate between and across agencies, and implementing pre-investment meetings for individual investors.
Policy and regulations are not, however, the sole role for governments. Ideally government should be a facilitator of economic development and wise investing. The public sector plays an important part in research and development (R&D), education, outreach, and advocacy.
Government support of sector growth is pivotal if aquaculture is to reach its untapped potential in Oregon, the Pacific Northwest and, more broadly, across the country. Additionally, government can serve as a vehicle for increasing the public’s understanding of aquaculture through enhanced education and extension systems.
Tribal communities have unique circumstances potentially making aquaculture investment easier and allowing them to be prospective early adopters for a nascent2 program. Conference attendees representing the state of Washington explained that tribal rights can be exercised in ways that allow for faster permitting and startup of aquaculture enterprises. Additionally, tribes can form partnerships with private companies to pair technical ability and aquaculture expertise with tribal organization, funding, and entrepreneurship. For example, the Jamestown Tribe partners with Cooke Aquaculture on developing successful marine aquaculture projects providing the potential to expand tribal economic activity while having downstream impacts on tribal public health, food security, and overall sovereignty. Both from within and outside Tribal Communities, special efforts should be focused on meaningful engagement regarding aquatic farming opportunities and assisting with investment planning incorporated with integrated economic and community development. A dynamic, diversified, and profitable tribal aquaculture program would serve as a strong foundation upon which to expand subsectoral growth and attract additional investment.
Partnerships & Associations
Aquaculture can serve as an important part of the economy, from local to national levels. This requires partnerships with entities covering a range of backgrounds, from markets and technology to civil society. These partnerships can be facilitated through a vibrant aquaculture producer association that is able to add value to the entire aquaculture program. Practically, this means strengthening state and regional aquaculture associations by ensuring they have the necessary breadth to support the overall state industry while building strong relationships with other producer associations (e.g., in the case of Oregon, two important linkages are with the horticulture and viticulture associations).
Knowledge and Education
The lack of a large and diversified aquaculture industry results in limited knowledge which has an impact on industry development. From students to members of civil society to would-be operators, this knowledge gap results in widespread misconceptions that hinder program development and causes farm level investments that are not technically sound and have high risk of failure. Some of these gaps can be addressed by utilizing available tools and resources while exploring more long term solutions such as more thoroughly integrating aquaculture into existing educational networks.
Program Development & Strategic Planning
There are certain advantages in having an underdeveloped program. As opposed to retrofitting an expansive existing industry, it is possible to take state of the art solutions and technologies to sculpt a 21st Century sustainable
and profitable program. This starts with a comprehensive State Aquaculture Strategic Plan. This plan, in turn, requires naming a lead agency and establishing an ad hoc Planning Committee representing all stakeholder groups. A state strategic aquaculture plan should be considered as an essential component of any responsible and productive state program.
In the aggregate, Conference discussions can be distilled to highlight an overall investment perspective and a set of high priority actions.
Under favorable conditions aquaculture can be a set of food systems and aquatic organism management schemes that can attract positive public and private investment. The corollary is that the absence of this investment can often be attributed to basic principles underpinning the acceptance of aquaculture.
In the case of Oregon, the Pacific Northwest, and many other areas, it can be proffered that the fundamental issues potentially adversely affecting the growth of the aquaculture sector are NOT technical nor even economic. The principal questions affecting the expansion and diversification of aquaculture are political support and social license, or the lack thereof.
To address concerns coming from this overarching perspective, the top three areas for concurrent priority action are:
1. Establish the framework for developing a State Strategic Aquaculture Plan and begin the planning process in 2023, completing the first draft of the comprehensive plan by mid 2024.
2. Pending adoption of the Plan, significantly improve coordination among all stakeholder groups and increase outreach to investors along the seafood value chain while establishing an interim one-stop-shop to interface with regulators and operators.
3. Identify and mobilize ways and means to support aquaculture for those Tribes interested in aquaculture development opportunities.
Below is a list of presentations given at the conference:
Oregon and Pacific Northwest Aquaculture Development Conference “Investing in the Future of Seafood” - Forum on Strategic Tribal Aquaculture & Food Security
Sourcing and Marketing Sustainable Aquaculture - Daisy Berg
Investing in Aquaculture - Carole R. Engle, Ph.D.
The Case for Aquaculture - Paul Zajicek
Portland District Regulatory Branch Authorities Pertaining to the Regulation of Mariculture Activities - Brielle Cummings
Overview NOAA’s Role in Aquaculture - Dan Tonnes
Breakout Session: Regulations and Permitting - Kellen Parrish
Breakout Session: Workforce Development - Angee Doerr
Investing in Aquaculture: Opportunities and Challenges for the Farmer?
Role of Aquaculture Associations - Carole R. Engle, Ph.D.
Al Roker of NBC's Today Show shares a closer look at aquafarms (aquaculture) as an innovative new underwater and sustainable way to raise native seafood and plants while also helping to combat climate change and overfishing.
“In a changing climate, we need to consider the environmental impacts of what we eat,” said Danielle Blacklock, director of NOAA Fisheries Office of Aquaculture. “Adding more seafood to your diet is a climate-smart, earth-friendly choice, especially if it’s grown here in the United States.”
To showcase the diversity of the United State’s aquaculture industry, Al Roker and the NBC team visited aquaculture efforts in California and Connecticut. They met NOAA, Sea Grant, and farmers from the Port of San Diego and Copps Island Oysters. In San Diego, Roker learned about abalone and how aquaculture can grow as part of the Blue Economy.
The Oregon Aquaculture Association (OAA) will be holding a membership meeting on May 8, 2023 from 2p to 3p PST via Zoom. OAA members are welcome to join this meeting.
If you are an OAA member and would to attend this meeting, please email Outreach Director, Michael Lee at email@example.com.
If you are not yet a member of OAA and wish to join, please click here.