The U.S. imports most of its seafood, but domestic production has been slowly rising and there is potential for the industry to grow. Fish and seafood farming, known as aquaculture, currently totals about 680 million pounds a year in the U.S., worth $1.5 billion. Aquaculture includes both freshwater and marine production. In the U.S., freshwater production mainly includes catfish, crawfish, and trout. Atlantic salmon is the biggest marine finfish species produced in the U.S., and oysters rank first for marine shellfish.
Today, new sustainable farming systems are being developed that combine aquaculture with crops. This method, called aquaponics, works in a cycle – fish raised in tanks produce waste that serves as a nutrient source for plants grown in the water, and the plants in turn purify the water for the fish. Aquaponics is an emerging practice used by a small number of commercial and hobbyist growers in the U.S., but it holds interesting potential. Small aquaponic systems can support a range of leafy plants, such as lettuce, watercress, basil, and kale, while larger, more complex systems are capable of producing tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, and other crops.