As a leading expert in sustainable aquaculture methods, Kevan Main has been in charge of Mote Marine’s research programs on ways to produce marine fish, sturgeon, shrimp, abalone and coral since 2001.
“One of the things that we really need in this country is to produce more of the seafood that we consume. Today we import over 91% of the seafood that we eat,” she says. “Today, over 50% of the seafood that’s eaten around the world is produced in aquaculture. And yet in our country we’re currently only producing about 5% of the aquaculture seafood that’s consumed.”
When it comes to mullet, she advocates for aquaculture alongside the historical method of net fishing.
“A fish like mullet could be produced in both ways. We could increase the stocks and fish more and provide more of a great fish. It’s a local species, it’s available in our waters, but there isn’t a lot of it available on our current restaurant menus,” she says.
While aquaculture often gets a bad rap compared to wild caught, Main’s research explores ways to make the “farmed” fish healthy and sustainable.
“Some people think that there’s concerns about the quality of that seafood, that it’s not as clean as say wild caught fisheries or that maybe they’re not being fed a diet that is as good for them as what they’re going to eat in nature,” she says. “What we’re trying to do is recreate the environment that they grow best on in nature.”HER VISION:
“With aquaculture, there’s an opportunity to be able to produce fish anywhere. The key is that you do have to be able to provide the right environmental conditions. So if we’re producing mullet in an area that’s within their home range, for example, they extend clear up into the Carolinas and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. And, so you could produce mullet in any of those coastal states and still get that product to market in the United States.”