The October 2016 issue of the Florida Trend magazine features aquaculture in their cover story, entitled Pompano and circumstance. According to the article, aquaculture has become the fastest-growing form of food production globally — in 2013, production of fish and other seafood eclipsed production of beef. In the United States, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the nation’s aquaculture support entity, wants to expand the volume of U.S. ocean-species production by at least 50% in the next four years. In Florida, however, aquaculture has a way to go. The state has well-established operations producing tilapia, sturgeon (for caviar), alligators, catfish, shrimp and clams, and a few entrepreneurs are branching out to species not usually farmed. But the overall production of farmed fish is small — the state generates more dollars from growing cucumbers than growing fish.

The article features several new businesses that are investing in the future by farming finfish like cobia and pompano. Several clam businesses in the state are also highlighted, including Cedar Key Aquaculture Farms and Placida Gold Aqua Farms, as well as the efforts of the University of Florida/IFAS Shellfish Aquaculture Program.

Living on the Edge

In the same Florida Trend issue, a sponsored report by Florida Sea Grant (FSG) highlights several examples of how the organization addresses a wide range of issues by providing the best science to balance the growth of local economies while protecting the coastal environment. Following is an excerpt from the report that highlights how FSG legal extension specialists have assisted the clam aquaculture industry in Cedar Key.

Fostering Growth for an Emerging Industry

In Cedar Key, where about 80% of Florida’s clam farming occurs, aquaculture has helped preserve a way of life. And clam farming now has a statewide economic impact of over $45 million, supporting more than 550 jobs in Cedar Key alone. Florida Sea Grant plays an integral role. Its legal extension team has assisted the community with proactive planning of a Community Redevelopment Area, a special finance district in which future increases in property values are set aside to pay for working waterfront improvements. The team also helped clam farmers earn exemptions for their qualified waterfront aquaculture operations, saving them nearly $27,000 in property tax each year. Cedar Key is now writing a customized floodplain ordinance so it can participate in the National Flood Insurance Community Rating System. The ordinance ensures that clam farmers can secure a variance from flood insurance rules that would otherwise require costly retrofits to their waterfront operations.