Aquaculture Programs

Seafood Quality

Sponsored by NOAA’s Oceans and Human Health Initiative and in cooperation with the Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research (NCCOS) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the OHH Seafood Quality Program has two goals.

The first is to develop a better understanding of the human health benefits and risks associated with cultured and wild seafood. This is being assessed by measuring the variability of contaminants and beneficial fatty acids in a representative finfish and crustaceans. Red drum and shrimp are being collected from a variety of global sources—wild, farmed, domestic, and imported. The edible portions are analyzed for contaminants (metals, pesticides, PCBs, PAHs, and PBDEs) and for their fatty acid profiles (with emphasis on the long chain omega-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid – DHA).

The second goal is to develop and transfer aquaculture technologies that permit economically competitive production of seafood with safe contaminant levels and enhanced beneficial fatty acid profiles. Using commercial scale grow-out facilities at SCDNR's Waddell Mariculture Center, and laboratories at SCDNR's Marine Resources Research Institute, and the Hollings Marine Laboratory, the program is developing diets and feeding protocols that ensure recognized safe contaminant levels while enhancing the levels of beneficial fatty acids in shrimp and finfish such as red drum and cobia. All results are interpreted in terms of human health risks and benefits using USEPA and USFDA guidelines and through extrapolation from significant medical trials and large, long-term human epidemiological studies.