Unless you have no Facebook friends in the seafood industry, then you know the big Boston show is just around the corner.

Seafood Expo North America (formerly known as the International Boston Seafood Show) kicks off Sunday, March 15, with the biggest show floor yet, a packed conference schedule, and attendees and exhibitors from around the world.

Sunday’s keynote at 2:15 addresses a topic of particular concern to the aging fishing industry — Inspiring the Next Generation of Leaders.

Coming off the heels of the Maine Fishermen’s Forum, I have seen the concerted efforts and lure behind the shift to aquaculture. Fishing fleets will have to compete with a growing aquaculture industry — in more ways than one. Some would paint fish farming as a natural next step for fishermen, but the differences are profound.

As Monday’s session “2 Billion People Are Coming to Dinner, Let’s Feed Them Fish!” will postulate, there seems to be a complacent acceptance that we can’t possibly feed our growing population with wild seafood. The conference description reads, “Quite simply, the wild fish supply cannot expand.”

But is that true? The supply of wild fish in the world certainly has the potential to expand under good management. And without a doubt, we could be landing more fish if they were more plentiful as a result of better management.

If Brian Rothschild, president and CEO of the Center for Sustainable Fisheries, is right, the amount of fish we’re underfishing in New England is hampering our sustainability as an industry more than curbing overfishing is securing our environmental sustainability.

Do we really need to focus our efforts on finding the next great innovation that will miraculously make farmed seafood the answer to our fish supply concerns? Or perhaps we could work at streamlining and improving management practices to boost landings and make an effort to market the fish we have plenty of.

That is certainly food for thought.

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 13 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute's Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

Join the Conversation