Half of all seafood consumed worldwide is produced by aquaculture (the farming of marine and freshwater organisms for human consumption), and this practice will likely become increasingly important as society strives to reduce pressure on wild seafood resources. USC faculty are very interested in working with the aquaculture industry to optimize production in the face of this consumer demand and with an eye toward managing aquaculture under future changing ocean conditions.
Along the U.S. West Coast, shellfish production is one of the most economically important and environmentally sustainable aquaculture activities. The USC Wrigley Institute is initiating a new program, called Future of Food from the Sea, to help promote sustainable shellfish production for today and tomorrow. Our researchers seek to understand how shellfish respond physiologically to environmental challenges such as temperature fluctuations, decreasing ocean pH, and disease. By using cutting edge molecular and genetic techniques, and by monitoring and modeling coastal conditions to understand the link between organism and environment, the Wrigley Institute aims to help commercial growers identify potential environmental threats and generate workable solutions.
Further research in the Future of Food from the Sea program will explore the possibility of breeding more “tolerant” strains of shellfish. By testing and selecting family lines for robust environmental traits, researchers hope to raise shellfish that survive, grow, and/or reproduce more efficiently under changing ocean conditions. The Wrigley Institute is in the process of building facilities to support this research, from greenhouses that raise algae and young larvae to floating nurseries and long-line systems that provide adults with growing environments in the local waters of Catalina Harbor. Upon completion, this facility will allow researchers to rear entire self-sustaining generations of shellfish at the Wrigley Marine Science Center without the need for importing organisms from industry or other organizations.
The Future of Food from the Sea program is an exciting opportunity for USC to influence the future success of sustainable aquaculture production. Through this program, our researchers will partner with industry representatives and promote robust commercial shellfish populations to meet the changing natural and societal climates of the 21st century.