Watercolor of 3 fish on blue background with strands of seaweed.
Credit: L. Angradi

What is the Great Lakes Aquaculture Collaborative?

The Great Lakes Aquaculture Collaborative (GLAC) is a three-year (Sept. 1, 2019 to Aug. 31, 2022) federally funded project that seeks to create a regionwide group to foster relevant, science based initiatives that support aquaculture industries in the Great Lakes region that are environmentally responsible, competitive, and sustainable.

Target audiences for this project include aquaculture producers, consumers, and fish/seafood marketers in Great Lakes states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois-Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New York. 

Outcomes include:

  1. Identifying research needs of Great Lakes aquaculture producers and developing strategies to meet those research needs.
  2. Quantifying consumer demand for desired species, attributes, labeling, and production processes for Great Lakes aquaculture products. 
  3. Identifying policy-related challenges and opportunities.
  4. Generating a compilation of science-based recommendations for environmentally responsible, competitive, and sustainable aquaculture in the Great Lakes region.

What is Sustainable Aquaculture?

Sustainable aquaculture is the ability to raise and harvest food-fish without degrading or depleting the environment, in a manner that is economically competitive, and in a manner that can be sustained indefinitely.  

Responsibly managed aquaculture can provide growers with a livelihood and produce a nutrient-rich protein source that can help feed the world while not negatively affecting the environment. 

The Great Lakes Aquaculture Collaborative seeks to help Great Lakes region food-fish farmers develop businesses that are:

  • Economic Sustainability means that a food-fish business is economically viable indefinitely or for a prolonged period of time.
  • Environmental Sustainability means that a food-fish business actively protects the environment. This includes an operation that does not release pollutants, does not deplete or destroy natural resources, and does not (un)intentionally introduce fish or pathogens or other species into public and other waters.
  • Social Sustainability means that food-fish businesses are good neighbors and actively contribute to the health and well-being of their communities. This includes fair wages, safe working conditions, and workforce diversity.

Why aquaculture? Aquaculture is one of the fastest-growing food sectors worldwide. Although people have cultivated aquatic species for thousands of years it was not until relatively recently that farm-raised products accounted for more than 50% of seafood consumed by people. When the volume of wild-caught fish began to level off in the late 1980s, aquaculture was seen as a means of fulfilling a need for protein. The aquaculture industry continues to grow as the need for protein increases and as people seek safe, local, and sustainable food systems to provide food for a global population that is estimated to reach nine billion people by 2050.