Consumer Education on Seafood and Aquaculture

Salmon filets and spears of asparagus on a baking sheet.

Salmon fillets and spears of asparagus on a baking sheet. Image credit: Photo by Christine Siracusa on Unsplash.

Project goals:

  1. Compile and evaluate readily available resources for adult consumer education and youth engagement in United States aquaculture.
  2. Develop, facilitate, and disseminate adult consumer education materials and programming on seafood and aquaculture.
  3. Develop, facilitate, and disseminate youth educational materials and programming about seafood and aquaculture.

Fish is recognized as a healthy source of protein, beneficial fats, and micronutrients and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that adults eat fish up to three times a week. But Americans eat roughly half the recommended amount of seafood. Sustainable aquaculture production could provide Americans with safe, tasty seafood and reduce the U.S. dependence on dwindling wild fisheries.

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Consumer education resources

Trout being tossed from a hand-held net into an aquaculture pond.

K-12 Aquaculture Teaching Aids

  1. 4-H Virtual Farm: Farm Pond Aquaculture
  2. AQUA: A Quest to Understand Aquaculture
  3. Aquaculture Educator Resources
  4. Seafood Eat Food Aquaculture Curriculum
Aquaponics system showing hydroponics tank, clean water return, fish tank, sediment tank, biofilter, and air pump

Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) and Aquaponics Resources

  1. Aquaponics Curriculum Guide
  2. Aquaponics Production Manual
  3. Recirculating Aquaculture Systems for Classroom Use
  4. Tabletop Aquaponics System

The resources above were reviewed and are recommended by Great Lakes Sea Grant fisheries and aquaculture extension educators. These resources, which are not products of Minnesota Sea Grant, likely do not meet accessibility standards. Contacting the original sources of the resources to inquire about accessible versions is encouraged.

Project description

The goal of this project is to develop methods to educate adult and youth consumers about U.S. aquaculture to increase the ability of consumers to make informed decisions about aquaculture products through the development of educational materials and engagement activities.

Why is this project needed? There is substantial consumer confusion surrounding:

  1. Aquaculture and its sustainability
  2. Health benefits of consuming farm-raised fish
  3. How to prepare and cook fish at home.

What does the project team plan to do? In an effort to promote sustainable aquaculture practices and inform the public about sustainable fish farming, the project team plans to:

  1. Compile and evaluate readily available resources related to (1) adult consumer education and (2) youth engagement in U.S. aquaculture.
  2. Develop, facilitate, and disseminate adult consumer education materials and programming on seafood and aquaculture.
  3. Develop, facilitate, and disseminate youth educational materials and programming on seafood and aquaculture.

Barriers to overcome. Development of adult learning materials and programs can be challenging. Adults need motivation to learn based on their job or general curiosity in a subject. However, the objective information about aquaculture is not regularly presented to the general public, and typical consumers may not actively seek it out. A child or young persons' lack of personal experiences with seafood and aquaculture are challenges for seafood and aquaculture education efforts.

Deliverables of this project: 

  1. Report of comprehensive list of web-based aquaculture educational materials currently available with an evaluation of some of the most relevant and/or visible of these resources.
  2. Results of a survey designed to develop a better understanding of some of the barriers to educating the public about aquaculture based on the opinions of aquaculture professionals.
  3. Several short educational videos and online educational modules about aquaculture and wild fisheries, information relevant to identifying and selecting responsible seafood products, and how to prepare seafood at home. Several in-person (or virtual, if necessary) workshops to teach adults proper selection, handling, and cooking of aquaculture products to reduce barriers to individuals cooking fish at home.
  4. Expansion of the NCRAC Youth Education in Aquaculture website to increase scope and school involvement throughout the NCR which will include workshops for teachers interested in including these experiences in their curriculum.
  5. Expansion and development of a formal lesson plan designed to empower youth through education about aquaculture and teaching them to harvest fish from classroom aquaponics units, clean them, and cook them; this will include several in-person (or virtual, if necessary) demonstrations for youth.
  6. Delivery of several in-person fish preservation, cooking and cleaning workshops in partnership with Native American and rural organizations to help re-engage their youth in traditional uses of fish; these activities will be accompanied by appropriate educational materials about fish as a healthy food source and production of short videos to highlight the collaborations.

Why Minnesota Sea Grant?

The Development of Consumer Educational Materials on Seafood and Aquaculture project supports Sea Grant's mission to enhance the practical use and conservation of Great Lakes, coastal, and marine resources in order to create a sustainable economy and environment. Specifically, this project supports Minnesota Sea Grant's national and state focus area of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.

What have we done lately?

The project team has completed a review of the available public facing, K-12 and adult aquaculture resources and is in the process of putting together a compilation of the most reliable of these resources. The team developed a survey to send to the aquaculture community including producers and extension personnel to collect information about existing consumer educational content, perceptions of the public’s understanding of aquaculture, and personal experiences with barriers and challenges of communicating aquaculture to the public.

Participants & audience

Minnesota Sea Grant project staff seek to educate adult and youth (K-12) consumers about U.S. aquaculture and the sustainability of food production practices.

Funding

MNSG’s Development of Consumer Educational Materials on Seafood and Aquaculture project is funded by a $225,505 grant from the North Central Regional Aquaculture Center (NCRAC) and is one of eight regional research and outreach proposal projects selected. The project started September 1, 2021 and ends August 31, 2023.


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