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Seafood Smart Aquaculture

Seafood Smart

Seafood Smart™ provides information to empower consumers to make smart decisions about farmed and wild seafood products in order to ensure the health and economic well-being of people, communities and the ocean. The National Aquarium has created this seafood education program to build awareness of the environmental and human health-related challenges of feeding a growing global population, including the importance of nutritious and responsibly harvested finfish, shellfish and sea vegetables. Given that the majority of wild stocks are at capacity or overfished, responsible aquaculture is necessary for human and ocean health.

Our individual food choices can create meaningful change and signal our expectations of a sustainable future to the seafood industry. Seafood Smart™ helps consumers advocate for healthy ecosystems to supply both farmed and wild seafood products for generations to come.

Our Focus

Fisherman Holding a Fish in a Net

Ocean and Human Health

Seafood is an important part of a healthy diet, and responsible aquaculture plays a crucial role in reducing the strain on our ocean while supplying food and social benefits.

The ocean is the life support system of the planet, and its health is critical to the air we breathe and the water we drink. The ocean allows for life on earth by regulating climate, providing a livelihood for millions of people and supplying us with food. Wild fisheries alone cannot meet the demand for marine protein as our human population grows to over 9 billion people by 2050. Aquaculture generally produces more animal protein using fewer resources. As such, responsibly farmed seafood is critical to food security and ecosystem health.

Responsible Consumption and Production

Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world, regulated by an ever-increasing set of both self-imposed and government-mandated standards based upon environmental, economic and social impacts.

Worldwide aquaculture production has grown annually since 1970, and farmed seafood now makes up more than half of the global seafood supply. Regulation of aquaculture operations varies by species, farming system and country. In the U.S., already a model for well-managed wild fisheries, seafood farmers follow the same strict food safety guidelines as land farmers. For imported seafood, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration works closely with NOAA's Seafood Inspection Program to ensure that imported products are safe.

Sustainable Cities and Communities

Seafood supports the livelihood of over 120 million people around the world and is the largest global food commodity. Aquaculture contributes to the economic health and stability of surrounding communities by creating jobs and stimulating the market.

Commercial fishing, aquaculture and related activities contribute over $7 billion to the U.S. economy. Although the aquaculture industry in the United States is small, it produces over 600 million pounds of seafood annually and is worth $1.4 billion dollars. It provides important jobs and supports working waterfronts along our coasts.

Our Approach

The National Aquarium's Seafood Smart™ consumer education campaign is designed to increase awareness of the benefits of aquaculture. We cultivate informed consumers who understand that responsibly farmed seafood supports a healthy human diet, sustainable ocean ecosystems, food security and the viability of wild fisheries. We are excited to partner with Wegmans Food Markets to raise customer confidence in making smart seafood choices. We also collaborate with other retailers, foodservice providers, aquaria, chefs, educators and influencers to foster an increased understanding of aquaculture throughout the country.

Seafood Smart™ Resources


NOAA Fisheries Office of Aquaculture supports cutting-edge science and research as well as federal policy making and regulation to grow sustainable aquaculture in the United States.

Seafood Nutrition Partnership Logo
Seafood Nutrition Partnership

SNP works to inspire a healthier America by promoting a nutrient-rich diet including the consumption of seafood at least twice a week per USDA dietary guidelines.

Global Aquaculture Alliance Logo
Global Aquaculture Alliance

GAA promotes responsible aquaculture practices through education, advocacy and demonstration.

Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology

IMET scientists conduct marine and environmental research and create technologies designed to foster the protection and restoration of coastal marine systems and their watersheds, sustainable use of their resources and improved human health.

Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions Logo
The Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions

The Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions connects leading conservation groups from North America, South America, Europe and Japan with businesses throughout the supply chain, from fishermen and fish farmers to retailers and restaurants.

Aqua-Spark Logo

Aqua-Spark is a global investment fund based in the Netherlands that invests in sustainable aquaculture businesses which generate investment returns while creating positive social and environmental impact.


Aquaculture: The breeding, rearing and harvesting of plants and animals in water environments, including ponds, rivers, lakes, oceans, and land-based systems. Aquaculture is also often referred to as fish or seafood farming.
Source: NOAA

Carbon footprint: The amount of carbon dioxide emissions produced by a specific activity. Aquaculture generally has a lower carbon footprint than other animal protein sources.
Source: FAO

Ecolabels: Voluntary, independent or third party certification or assessment processes that rate a product for its environmental performance. Examples include the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Global Aquaculture Alliance Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) and Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.
Source: Oceana

Farm systems: Methods for aquaculture vary based on the species being farmed and where the farm is located; types of farms include recirculating aquaculture systems, net pens, raceways, ponds and submersible pens.
Source: Seafood Watch

Hatchery: A hatchery is a hybrid of a laboratory and a farm, where fish and shellfish are spawned, then hatched and cared for. Hatcheries provide the seed for aquaculture systems and some commercial fisheries.
Source: NOAA

Ocean acidification: A term that refers to the reduction in pH across the global ocean, caused by its absorption of excess carbon dioxide. The resulting chemical reactions lowers pH, resulting in more acidic seawater which affects the availability of calcium carbonate to shell-building animals such as oysters and crabs.
Source: National Aquarium

Sea vegetables: Edible algae or seaweed, including kelp, nori, sea grapes and arame.
Source: FAO


Seafood Watch Logo

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch®

We are a conservation partner of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® program, which helps consumers and businesses choose seafood that's fished or farmed in ways that support a healthy ocean, now and for future generations.

War Horse Cities Logo

War Horse Cities

The National Aquarium's Seafood Smart™ program originated in 2015 with the generous support of War Horse Cities and the Plank/DiCarlo Family Foundation.

If you have specific questions, email us at