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Why Is Mariculture Important?

As humanity’s population continues to expand, we must increasingly rely upon new and improved methods for cultivating food on land and in the ocean. The term aquaculture refers to the cultivation in water (fresh and saltwater) of animals or plants for human consumption. Mariculture refers to the commercial harvest of seafood that is farm-raised in the ocean and along the coast.

Sustainable mariculture supports food-provisioning needs through practices that can be maintained over the long term. This includes not compromising the water quality in the farmed area and not relying on wild populations to feed or replenish the cultivated species.     

Some types of mariculture may impact the delivery of benefits in other goals through habitat destruction, accidental release of non-native species or other factors. Such factors are included as pressures when scoring those goals. 

Goal Score

25 The goal score for Sub-Goal: Mariculture is 25 out of 100. The global average score is 70 out of 100.

Likely Future State


It is estimated that in the near future the score for Sub-Goal: Mariculture will improve roughly +18%.
global score

What does this score mean?

The reference point for mariculture uses harvested tonnes per coastal inhabitant (i.e. within the 50 KM coastal strip), under the assumption that production depends on the presence of coastal communities that can provide the labor force, infrastructures, and economic demand to support the development of mariculture facilities.

The mariculture sub-goal assumes that coastal areas with appropriate social inputs for labor, coastal access, infrastructure and economic demand are potentially suitable for mariculture. High-resolution data on habitats, tides, currents, primary productivity, etc. at the global level will be needed to determine which species could actually be raised and what their productivity might be.

A high score can mean that a country is sustainably harvesting as close to the maximum amount of farmed fish and seafood as possible based on its own potential. A low score can indicate one of two things – that seafood is being farmed in an unsustainable manner or that regions are not maximizing their potential to farm fish and other marine animals in their coastal territory.

The score for each country indicates how close its current yield is to the score for the most productive country, which was Norway in 2013. This revised reference point for mariculture is explained in Methods.

Current Score:
The current score indicates that most regions are not sustainably producing the amounts of farmed fish and seafood that they potentially could.

However, it is important to note that the reference point is likely too high for most regions, due the fact that all near-shore habitat was included as "potentially suitable for mariculture". In reality, depending on the type of species cultivated, there are certain habitat requirements, but to predict them would require high resolution spatial information on habitat, currents, productivity, etc. that are not available at the global scale.

Components Used to Calculate this Sub-goal Score

Click on a component to learn more.

more information