Charting a course ahead for the conservation and sustainable farming of freshwater and marine species is a chief focus of the first State of the World’s Aquatic Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report will contain smaller subsections from 89 contributing countries, including the United States.
This summer, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) national program leader Caird Rexroad submitted a final draft of the U.S. subsection of the FAO report. This culminated the year-long efforts of an interagency team of experts to identify and help catalogue genetic resources for some of the most recognized and used aquatic species. These experts came from ARS, USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Fish and Wildlife Service, Food and Drug Administration, Department of State and National Aquaculture Association.
Rexroad was appointed to lead the team in spring 2016 to represent the U.S. government’s efforts on the State of the World report. The team’s U.S. Country Report subsection profiles trends, industry practices and issues impacting U.S. aquaculture, which ranks 14th worldwide and produces 608 million pounds of fisheries products worth $1.3 billion annually.
The State of the World report seeks to:
- create tools to improve the conservation, sustainable use, and development of aquatic genetic resources;
- identify information gaps and threats to effectively managing them;
- inform the development of national policies, legislation, research, education, and training;
- raise greater public awareness on the importance of aquatic genetic resources for food and agriculture; and
- complement other national or regional reporting activities.
Aquaculture has tremendous potential to provide healthy protein sources to a growing global population, according to Rexroad. The United States has the natural resources and agricultural know-how—including genetic improvement technologies—to help make this happen, he adds.