The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced a nationwide aquaculture policy that promotes the growth of sustainable seafood, particularly oysters and clams.

The policy calls for substantially increasing the percent of shellfish and other seafood that the domestic aquaculture industry supplies to the U.S. market, currently about 5 percent. It sends a message that NOAA is committed to promoting shellfish and finfish aquaculture in the federal waters it controls three miles from shore, provided the operations do not interfere with environmental resources and are based on sound science.

In the Chesapeake Bay, most of the aquaculture operations are in areas close to the shore and controlled by either Virginia or Maryland. Nevertheless, their owners could benefit from NOAA's technical assistance as the agency seeks to partner with "willing in-shore businesses and willing and interested in-shore states," as Eric Schwaab, assistant administrator for NOAA's fisheries service called NOAA's potential partners.