During the July Board of Supervisor’s Meeting, former Board Member Andrew Barbour made the statement that the twin pillars of Northampton’s economy are tourism and aquaculture. Barbour is correct, as shellfish farming on the lower Eastern Shore is considered one of the State’s most recognizable economic success stories. Given the prominent role aquaculture plays for Northampton, it would seem every effort would be made to not only promote it, but also protect it. Without pristine water, this industry will cease to exist.
“It is in the national interest, and it is the national policy, to encourage the development of aquaculture in the United States.” This statement in the National Aquaculture Act of 1980 showed that that Congress recognized that we had significant potential for aquaculture production. U.S. aquaculture, with an annual production of 594 million pounds of seafood valued at $1.2 billion in 2013, represents nearly 20 percent of the value of seafood caught or farmed in the United States.
Locally, aquaculture is making a substantial contribution to the economic development of Northampton. The relative dispersion of coastal small and large-scale operations adds to our ability to remain an economically viable rural community,and gives us the leverage to balance detrimental trends towards overdeveloped coastal urbanization.
In addition to its direct contribution, the aquaculture sector is often responsible for significant indirect multiplier effects on economic development, such as trucking, canning and supply sourcing.
NOAA has been following this trend for several years, and provides these infographics for an overall perspective.