Aquaculture America 2023

February 23 - 26, 2023

New Orleans, Louisiana USA


Megan Davis*, Raimundo Espinoza, Edna Díaz Negrón, Paola Sotomayor Landrón


Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

5600 US 1 North, Fort Pierce, Florida, USA


Halophyte ‘salt-loving’ plants also known as sea vegetables have historically been foraged along many coasts for consumption and are now grown as crops in many places in the world. Growing halophyte plants as sea vegetables for culinary dishes and coastal restoration shows tremendous promise to stimulate a new branch of aquaculture for Puerto Rico and other places in the Caribbean. Halophytes are an environmentally sustainable crop since they are a carbon sequestering plant, remove excess nutrients from coastal ecosystems or aquaculture systems, can handle extreme conditions, require zero freshwater, and their salt content makes them more resistant to pests and diseases.

Sea vegetables have been grown at Florida Atlantic University in pilot-scale studies, using the excess nutrients from fish, shrimp and other species, in an Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) system. Through technology transfer these methodologies to grow indigenous Puerto Rican halophyte plants for culinary dishes and coastal restoration are being tested in an aquaponic system at the Puerto Rico, Naguabo Aquaculture Center located at the Naguabo Fishing Association. There are three local species that will be grown using a NFT (nutrient film technique) system: sea asparagus (Salicornia bigelovii), sea purslane (Sesuvium portulacastrum), and saltwort (Batis maritima). Queen conch are also grown in the aquaponic system and they provide nutrients for the plants. Additional species to be considered include spiny lobsters, crabs, and West Indian fighting conch and top shells. Although sea vegetables were eaten in Puerto Rico by past generations, today they go largely unnoticed in Puerto Rican cuisine and introducing them to the domestic food industry, targeting restaurants as well as households, will begin to generate a market for a new aquaculture crop with economic and nutritional benefits. This project is funded by USDA ARS and Puerto Rico Sea Grant.