Editor's picks: Open-ocean aquaculture

Here's a look at this week's most popular SeafoodSource news stories, commentaries and market reports:

• The debate over open-ocean aquaculture is heating up in the United States. The Ocean Stewards Institute on Tuesday voiced its support for legislation that would establish national standards governing open-ocean aquaculture in U.S. waters. Then on Wednesday, Kona Blue Water Farms announced plans to sell its offshore aquaculture operations in Hawaii to a newly formed company led by the president of open-ocean cage producer Ocean Spar. And in his commentary this week, "Just a bill on Capitol Hill," SeaFood Business Associate Editor James Wright said the National Sustainable Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2009 will need more support than it's getting if it is to advance.

• Aquaculture is feeding Scotland's economy, despite a challenging economic climate, according to a new report from the Scottish government. SeafoodSource Contributing Editor Lindsey Partos reported that as the debate on food security gains momentum across the globe, there is rising awareness of the potential role aquaculture could play in efficiently providing a much-needed protein to British consumers.

• Two stories this week could be interpreted as signs the U.S. economy is turning around. SeafoodSource Contributing Editor Christine Blank took a look at a few national convenience chains and regional supermarket chains, including 7-Eleven and Sunflower Farmers Market, that plan to expand in 2010, opening up new markets for seafood vendors. And the National Restaurant Association reported that U.S. foodservice operators are "cautiously optimistic" about 2010; 31 percent of operators that responded to a survey in November said they expect to post higher sales in six months (compared to a year ago), up from 29 percent in October.

• It's official. Norwegian seafood exports reached a record NOK 44.7 billion in 2009, up NOK 6 billion from 2008, the Norwegian Seafood Export Council reported on Wednesday. That's the sixth consecutive year Norwegian seafood exports have set a record.

• There was a boatload of news in 2009 surrounding the world's tuna fisheries and the effort to prevent overfishing, especially with bluefin tuna. But what has the fallout been in Japan? SeafoodSource Contributing Editor Chris Loew reported in this week's market report that tuna prices in general were down at Tokyo's Tsukiji wholesale fish market in December. Prices are usually higher in December, with strong holiday demand, but this year the trend has reversed and year-end consumption of luxury foods slumped due to the depressed economy.

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