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The work suggests that communicating the potential environmental benefits of seafood farming expansion has the potential to shift public perceptions.

Aquarium of the Pacific and Collaborators Publish New Findings About Seafood and Seaweed Farming

  (UNITED STATES, 3/27/2023)

Sustainable seafood and seaweed farming are environmentally friendly alternatives to land-based food. Unfamiliarity and outdated narratives about harmful aquaculture have hindered social acceptance of the aquaculture industry in the United States. A new study published by the Aquarium of the Pacific and collaborators from the School for the Environment at the University of Massachusetts Boston, University of Southern California Sea Grant Program, and the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Santa Clara University reveals how perceptions of seafood and seaweed farming can change in respondents and who they saw as the most trusted sources to deliver those messages.

 Dr. Peter Kareiva.

“Our results suggest that sustainability themes, delivered by trusted sources, can convert naysayers regarding aquaculture into supporters,” said Dr. Peter Kareiva, who is an environmental scientist, an author on this study, and Aquarium of the Pacific president. The study focused on people residing in the western and northeastern coastal states of the U.S.—stakeholders who would need to live with an expanded marine farming industry.

Economic benefits and provision of jobs were not the benefits that survey respondents found most persuasive. What changed minds was messages emphasizing the environmental benefits of seafood and seaweed farming. These benefits include having a stable and well-managed ecofriendly alternative to land-based foods and providing a sustainable alternative to wild fisheries. Altogether, this work suggests that communicating the potential environmental benefits of seafood farming expansion in this nation has the potential to shift public perceptions.

Data also revealed that seafood farming received more favorable responses from surveyed individuals after watching Ocean to Table, a video series produced by the Aquarium of Pacific. This series highlights responsible U.S. marine aquaculture or ocean farming. Over half of the respondents who began with a negative opinion of seafood farming, shifted to a favorable opinion after watching one of these videos.

This study also asked respondents about what sources they most trusted when it came to aquaculture—scientists, seafood farmers, and aquariums/museum ranked highest. This paper, “Are all benefits equal? An exploratory analysis of coastal perspectives of seafood farming expansion in the United States,” is now published in The Journal of the World Aquaculture Society. This study was funded by the University of Southern California Sea Grant Program, World Wildlife Fund, and California Sea Grant Program.

About the Aquarium of the Pacific

The Aquarium of the Pacific's mission is to instill a sense of wonder, respect, and stewardship for the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants, and ecosystems. The Aquarium's vision is to create the first aquarium, and perhaps the first institution, in the world dedicated to conserving and building Natural Capital (Nature and Nature's services) by building Social Capital (the interactions between and among peoples).

The Aquarium of the Pacific is the fourth largest aquarium in the nation. It displays over 11,000 animals in more than 50 exhibits that represent the diversity of the Pacific Ocean. Each year more than 1.5 million people visit the Aquarium. Beyond its world-class animal exhibits, the Aquarium offers educational programs for people of all ages from hands-on activities to lectures by leading scientists.

Throughout the year, the Aquarium features art exhibits, performing arts shows, and cultural and community festivals as a way to engage new audiences and make science accessible.

The Aquarium of the Pacific was the first among museums, zoos, and aquariums in the nation to register its greenhouse gases and is a leader in green practices, including its LEED platinum Watershed classroom and its commitment to grow without increasing its carbon footprint. In 2009 the Aquarium was awarded the Super Nova Star Award by the Alliance to Save Energy for being the nation’s most energy-efficient business with revenues under U$50 million. It was proud to partner with the Pacific Life Foundation to launch Seafood for the Future in 2009.

Source: Aquarium of the Pacific

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