Modern aquaculture is a major new development at the interface of science, technology and commerce. Extrapolating from recent practical achievements this paper looks ahead to the 1980s and beyond to the likely course and rate of progress of this new industry. These developments, which are seen as consequences of the interaction of economic pressures, scientific endeavour and advanced technology, are examined in some detail. The major arguments presented in the paper centre on the cultivation of marine fish and shellfish for food, though reference is also made to other facets of aquaculture. Particular attention is given to the problems of species selection and the criteria which influence selection are discussed, and the impact which modern advances in science and technology is likely to have on the critical commercial decisions is considered. The technological options are described and illustrated in a practical way by detailed reference to the salmon farming process. Drawing on existing experience, the factors which could become important in future debate on the priorities and levels of effort appropriate to aquacultural development are examined in the light of commercial and socio-economic objectives. Continuing with a short analysis of the factors which could influence the course and rate of development during the next 15 years, the paper concludes by indulging in a speculative examination of the possibilities for aquaculture at the turn of the century.