[photo, Oyster aquaculture exhibit, Maryland State Fair, Timonium, Maryland] Aquaculture, or farming the water, produces a variety of finfish and shellfish: hybrid striped bass, tilapia, catfish, crawfish, trout, oysters, and soft crabs. Black sea bass, yellow perch, and eels also are under consideration for aquafarming. For laboratory research, aquaculture supplies ornamental aquatic plants and fish, game fish, bait, and some specimens. Aquaculturally produced fish are exempt from laws and regulations that pertain to wild harvested species, including endangered species provisions.

Oyster aquaculture exhibit, Maryland State Fair, Timonium, Maryland, September 2015. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.

Maryland's first aquaculture legislation passed in 1988. Since then, most aquafarmed products have been grown in ponds. A new intensive aquaculture, however, now uses recirculating tanks, making farm-raised fish available year-round.
[photo, Tawes State Office Building, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, Maryland] Formerly supported by the Department of Agriculture, aquaculture, since July 2011, has been assisted and promoted by the Aquaculture Division in the Department of Natural Resources, as well as the Aquaculture Coordinating Council.

Department of Natural Resources, Tawes State Office Building, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, Maryland, March 2001. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

Seventy-one commercial aquaculture producers operated in Maryland in 2010, along with seven licensed fee-fishing operations, and many individuals who grew fish and shellfish for their own use. Further, more than fifty schools, nature centers, government agencies, and private organizations raised fish, shellfish, or aquatic plants for educational or restoration purposes. Species produced for those purposes included American and hickory shad, bluegill, brown and rainbow trout, channel catfish, golden shiners, redear and hybrid sunfish, largemouth bass, striped bass, walleye, yellow perch, tiger muskie, tilapia, terrapins, Rosenbergii prawn, oysters, ornamental fish, and native grasses. The 2010 estimated value of Maryland seafood industry exceeded $600 million, and employed more than 7,000 workers.

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