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USDA releases 2018 'Census of Aquaculture' results

Census provides information for trade associations, governments, agribusinesses and others to learn about aquaculture.

Sales of aquaculture products in 2018 totaled $1.5 billion, an increase of 10.5% from 2013, according to the 2018 "Census of Aquaculture" released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

NASS said in 2018, there were 2,932 aquaculture farms with sales in the U.S., down 5% from 2013. Five states — Mississippi, Washington, Louisiana, Virginia and California — accounted for 51% of aquaculture sales and 37% of aquaculture farms in 2018.

“The 2018 'Census of Aquaculture' updates important information about the industry that we last produced in 2013,” NASS administrator Hubert Hamer said. “These valuable data tell the story of U.S. aquaculture, following and expanding on the 'Census of Agriculture.' The information in the report helps trade associations, governments, agribusinesses and others learn about aquaculture and make informed decisions that have a direct impact on the future of the industry.”

The 2018 "Census of Aquaculture" provides detailed information about production and methods, surface water acres and sources, sales, point-of-first-sale outlets and aquaculture distributed for restoration, conservation, enhancement or recreational purposes.

NASS said data highlights include:

* Average sales per farm were $516,944.

* Sales of food fish were $716 million, a decrease of 2% from 2013.

* Sales of mollusks were $441.8 million, an increase of 34% from 2013.

* Crustacean sales in 2018 were $100.4 million, up 18% from 2013.

* Catfish and oysters were the top species in terms of both sales and number of farms.

* Catfish sales, valued at $366.8 million, accounted for 51% of all food fish sales in 2018.

* Oyster sales, valued at $284.9 million, accounted for 64% of mollusk sales in 2018.

* Mississippi led the nation in total aquaculture sales in 2018, with $216 million.

NASS said an aquaculture farm is defined as any place from which $1,000 or more of aquaculture products were produced and sold or distributed for restoration, conservation, enhancement or recreation during the census year. Aquaculture is defined as the farming of aquatic organisms, including baitfish, crustaceans, food fish, mollusks, ornamental fish, sport or game fish and other aquaculture products. Farming involves some form of intervention in the rearing process, such as seeding, stocking, feeding, protection from predators, etc. Fish, crustaceans, mollusks and other aquatic products caught or harvested by the public from non-controlled waters or beds are considered wild caught and are not included as aquaculture, the agency noted.

The "Census of Aquaculture" is a "Census of Agriculture Special Study," or follow-on, that expands on the data collected for 2017. The last aquaculture census was conducted in 2013. To access the 2018 "Census of Aquaculture" results and other agricultural census data, visit www.nass.usda.gov/AgCensus.

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