Temporal Patterns of Mariculture Production: Implications for Sustainable Development

Rebecca Gentry1, Sarah Lester2 and Bess Ruff2, (1)Florida State University, Geography, Tallahassee, FL, United States, (2)Florida State University, Geography, Tallahassee, United States
Mariculture – farming seafood in the ocean – has been expanding in many countries and has the potential to be a critical component of a sustainable global food system. However, it has developed inconsistently across the globe, with minimal development in some regions and intensive growth that may threaten sustainability in other regions. There is limited understanding of why development patterns vary across the globe or how these patterns relate to sustainable food production. To address these knowledge gaps, we analyze global mariculture development trends at the country-level and show that most countries follow predictable patterns of development, which are associated with key economic and governance indicators. For example, countries that have minimal mariculture production also have, on average, lower regulatory quality. We also show that production of some taxa, e.g., molluscs, is more strongly associated with stable production over time, as is growing a diversity of species. Taken together, our results suggest that enabling policies may unlock mariculture growth opportunities, and that strategies that emphasize production of a diversity of species could contribute to a more productive and stable mariculture industry. Further, by assessing each country’s trajectory of mariculture development in relation to its production potential, we consider the limits and opportunities for future mariculture growth to contribute to sustainable food systems.