The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced July 10 an aquaculture initiative it said would enable domestic seafood production and create jobs in coastal communities.

The initiative would help meet a growing demand for seafood in the U.S. while creating jobs and restoring healthy ecosystems, according to a press release.

The agency’s Aquaculture Technology Transfer Initiative would foster public-private partnerships on regional projects that showcase innovative sustainable practices, jump start private sector investments, and create employment opportunities in coastal communities.

NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco was scheduled to announce the initiative following meetings at the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in Carlsbad, Calif., a private research institute north of San Diego with extensive aquaculture research facilities.

In June, the Department of Commerce and NOAA released national policies designed to support sustainable marine aquaculture in the United States. Americans import about 84 percent of their seafood, half of which is from aquaculture. The U.S. trade deficit in seafood currently exceeds $10 billion and continues to grow.

As part of this initiative, NOAA will work with those in the private sector, academia, government and communities to advance technology, monitor performance indicators, and showcase best practices and market-based standards. The initiative will be implemented with the active involvement of NOAA’s regional offices and science centers, Sea Grant Extension, and other federal, state, local and non-governmental partners. Jointly, NOAA and its partners will identify and pursue projects that promote sustainable domestic marine aquaculture.

The domestic aquaculture industry, both freshwater and marine, currently supplies about 5 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. The cultivation of shellfish, such as oysters, clams and mussels, comprises about two-thirds of U.S. marine aquaculture. Salmon and shrimp aquaculture contribute about 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Current production takes place mainly on land, in ponds and in coastal state waters.