Aquaculture Data and Tools

Have you ever thought about the “farm-raised” seafood that you see in the supermarket? Maybe you’ve wondered where are these farms, or if there is one near you.  For the first time in history there is now a comprehensive national data layer representing marine aquaculture sites for the United States.

That’s not to say the data didn’t exist before. It did. It’s just the layers were dispersed throughout each coastal state’s agency of authority on aquaculture which varied from state to state. The data could be found in a state’s Department of Natural Resources or their Department of Agriculture or their Department of Environmental Protection or their Department of Marine Resources. Need I go on?  That’s what makes this new layer so momentous if anyone wants to find aquaculture sites for a particular state they can find it in this data layer.  This layer also now allows communities to examine the economic value of aquaculture in their area and correlate it to its physical extent in the environment, thus helping planners balance the many activities on our busy coasts. Looking at the metadata you can see the comprehensive list of all the sources that were researched and data that was compiled to create this layer.

Map depicting the aquaculture map services data found offshore of Connecticut as well as a pop-up dialog showing the attributes associated with the data.

Now you may look at the data in this map service and wonder why not all coastal states are represented? While this doesn’t contain sites for every coastal state, it does contain quite a few of them.  Any data that is missing is either in the process of being created or updated by that state, that state may not have any geospatial data representing their aquaculture locations, or that state may not actually participate in aquaculture activities.


Infographic depicting how aquaculture grows resilient coastal communities.

If you are more interested in NOAA’s efforts to grow sustainable aquaculture, check out the NCCOS Coastal Aquaculture Siting and Sustainability program.  This page contains information on why aquaculture is important as well as links to publication and other resources. They have also created a new Coastal Aquaculture Planning Portal!

This planning portal provides a comprehensive list of tools available to the aquaculture coastal planner or manager.  As well as information on why these tools are relevant to the field of aquaculture. Again, providing a wealth of information in one location.

Image explaining how the Coastal Aquaculture Planning Portal is a toolbox for sustainable aquaculture coastal planning and siting.


In a time where wild fisheries are under tremendous pressure, aquaculture represents a sustainable way to meet global and U.S. seafood demands.  But successful aquaculture requires careful planning. If you are reading this, we hope that you see and reap the benefits of both the comprehensive data layer as well as the planning portal. If you happen to have aquaculture data in a state that is not represented in the data layer, please send us an email and we’ll be in touch regarding integrating this data with the existing layer.

This data layer was created by data stewards in partnership with NOAA National Centers for Coastal and Ocean Science (NCCOS).


Anna Verrill

I am a Senior Geospatial Analyst at the NOAA Office for Coastal Management, where I am the data manager for the initiative. I have been working in the realm of the GIS for over a decade. I have worked in various fields throughout my career from transportation to utilities infrastructure to land information systems and now the marine environment. I have a Bachelor of Arts dual degree in Environmental Planning and Policy and Geography with a minor in Biology from the University of Maine at Farmington. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my dog - Nemo, SCUBA diving, and traveling.

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