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Executive Summary Marine aquaculture, the farming of marine finfish, shellfish, crustaceans, and seaweed, as well as the ocean ranching of anadromousi fish, is a rapidly growing industry in many parts of the world. In the United States, fresh- water aquaculture (primarily the farming of catfish, trout, crayfish, and ornamental fish) is an expanding industry; however, marine aquaculture has yet to achieve economic success beyond a limited basis. Constraints to the industry have included difficulties and costs of using coastal and ocean space, public concerns about environmental effects of wastes on water qual- ity, conflicts with other users of the coastal zone (e.g., boaters and fisher- men), objections to marine aquaculture installations on aesthetic grounds from coastal property owners, and broad ecological issues involving con- cerns about genetic dilution of wild stocks and transfer of diseases by cul- tured species through escapement of cultured animals. Poor water quality, high labor and land costs, and limited warm water temperatures also inhibit the success of marine aquaculture in the United States. On the other hand, the consumption of seafood in the United States is increasing at the same time that yields from capture fishing are reaching the limits of sustainable returns, and the nation relies increasingly on imports to meet the growing consumer demand for seafood. The opportunity, therefore, exists for U.S. aquaculture to develop the capability to supply this growing demand and for marine aquaculture to make a significant contribution. The National Research Council convened a committee under its Marine Board to assess the technology and opportunities for marine aquaculture in the United States. The primary objective of the study was to identify and appraise opportunities for technology development that can optimize the
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2 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY cost-effectiveness and productivity of marine aquaculture in the United States, as well as engineering and policy actions that would address associ- ated environmental concerns. The committee concluded that a number of benefits will accrue to the nation from the addition of an economically viable, technologically ad- vanced, and environmentally sensitive healthy marine aquaculture industry. These benefits include providing wholesome seafood to replace declining harvests of wild fish, products for export to improve the nation's balance of trade, enhancement of commercial and recreational fisheries and fisheries that are overfished or otherwise threatened, economic opportunities for ru- ral communities, and new jobs for skilled workers, particularly in coastal communities where some traditional fisheries are at maximum sustainable yield or in decline. The advancement of the science and technology base in marine aquaculture also will provide benefits to other industries, such as biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. The prospects for marine aquaculture as an emerging enterprise are un- certain and depend on whether a number of problems are resolved. How- ever, given a fair share of support for the development of an advanced scientific and engineering base, as well as a reasonable and predictable regulatory framework, many of the problems that presently constrain ma- rine aquaculture could be resolved. Although legislation to promote aquaculture was passed in 1980 (Na- tional Aquaculture Act, P.L. 96-362) and again in 1985 (National Aquacul- ture Improvement Act, P.L. 99-198), a number of problems have prevented these expressions of policy intent from effectively transforming marine aqua- culture into a dynamic industry. First, no funds were ever appropriated to agencies to implement the provisions of these acts. Second, the needs of marine aquaculture have tended to be overshadowed by the interests of the freshwater aquaculture industry, which are more closely linked to those of the traditional agriculture community through its geographic focus in in- land farming areas. Moreover, marine aquaculture, because of its location in the coastal zone, operates under a complex coastal regulatory regime, and tends to arouse intense scrutiny because of widespread public concern about activities that take place in or near the ocean. CONCLUSIONS The present study investigated the opportunities for improving the out- look for U.S. marine aquaculture and concluded that the issues that con- strain its development will need to be specifically addressed through three primary avenues: (l) advances in the scientific, technical, and engineering base that underlies this industry, both to achieve more cost-effective opera- tions and to mitigate environmental problems; (2) changes in federal and
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY state agency roles to provide a regulatory and funding framework that en- courages the industry's growth while ensuring that environmental concerns are addressed; and (3) congressional actions to attend to a number of unre- solved policy issues. Achieving these objectives will depend on active con- gressional oversight of the executive agencies charged with implementing the national policies expressed in the National Aquaculture Act and the National Aquaculture Improvement Act. RECOMMENDATIONS Advances in Technology and Engineering- A Marine Aquaculture Initiative The opportunity exists for technology and increased knowledge to pro- vide solutions to many of the environmental, economic, and biological limi- tations that constrain marine aquaculture's transformation into a significant U.S. industry. The design of new technologies can play a key role in im- proving all aspects of culture operations and auxiliary systems that will contribute to the economic feasibility of marine aquaculture, as well as alleviate environmental problems. The opportunity, however, can be real- ized only if federal policy and action strongly support the development of needed technology. The committee recommends that Congress make a $12 million national commitment to a strategic R&D initiative that will support the research necessary to develop marine aquaculture technology, to address environ- mental issues and concerns and to provide economical systems. Leadership in this initiative should be provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with coordination by the Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture (JSA), and implemented under memoranda of understanding among fed- eral agencies that sponsor or conduct research related to marine aquacul- ture. The initiative should address the following research and development needs: · the interdisciplinary development of environmentally sensitive, sustain- able systems that will enable significant commercialization of onshore (on land) and nearshore marine aquaculture without unduly increasing conflict over the use of coastal areas; · development of the biological and engineering knowledge base for tech- nologies and candidate species needed to make decisions regarding com- mercialization of offshore marine aquaculture operations that avoid the environmental impacts of nearshore operations; · creation of (1) technology centers to be used for these technology de- velopment programs, and (2) marine aquaculture parks for fostering new environmentally sensitive commercial development;
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4 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY · design and implementation of improved higher education programs; · new and improved procedures and systems to collect and exchange data and technical information; and · promotion of marine aquaculture as a vital component of fisheries stock mitigation and enhancement by (1) facilitating aquaculture's role in the preservation of threatened or endangered species populations and of genetic diversity, including greater involvement of private sector facilities; (2) de- veloping production procedures for the broader range of species necessary for effective mitigation of negative impacts on fish and shellfish stocks; and (3) developing and implementing improved methods for determining the effectiveness of using cultured stock for fish and shellfish enhance- ment activities in support of commercial, recreational, and ecological purposes. Federal Agency Actions The federal agencies with primary jurisdiction over marine aquaculture activities include the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and two branches of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the National Sea Grant College Program. Although, the USDA was designated as lead agency in the National Aquaculture Im- provement Act of 1985, it is unrealistic to expect that the FWS and NOAA will give up their long-standing interests in this domain; however, more effective means of coordinating their activities need to be developed. More active leadership and more effective coordination of federal activities under congressional oversight are necessary to translate the intent of existing national legislation regarding aquaculture into positive actions. U.S. Department of Agriculture · It is recommended that the lead role of the USDA be strengthened by establishing a formal entity focused on aquaculture, at an appropriately high level in the agency, and by acquiring expertise in marine aquaculture throughout USDA's services. Specific additional funds need to be allocated to target marine aquaculture activities in existing USDA services. · It is recommended that the USDA be charged with leadership in the promotion of commercial aquaculture including the research and support services (i.e., National Aquaculture Information Center) required, particu- larly in the areas of production, processing, distribution, and marketing of marine aquaculture products, especially as food products. · It is recommended that, under the leadership of the USDA, several interagency memoranda of understanding (MOUs) be created to clarify the
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY s missions, roles, and responsibilities of each agency with respect to aquacul- ture and specifically marine aquaculture. Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture It is recommended that in addition to its current role as a forum for interagency discussion, the JSA be charged with designing a streamlined planning and permitting process for marine aquaculture activities emphasiz- ing joint local, state, and federal coordination, and take responsibility for promoting the inclusion of marine aquaculture in the Coastal Zone Manage- ment Act. . The JSA should also conduct a comprehensive evaluation of impacts of the Lacey Act (P.L. 97-79, as amended in 1981) on marine aquaculture, and make recommendations to Congress for appropriate changes to specifically encourage development of marine aquaculture based on ecologically sound considerations. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service It is recommended that the FWS continue to exercise leadership in the area of fisheries enhancement of anadromous species. Such leadership should include: · promoting the use of private aquaculture for enhancement of stocks of various anadromous species that are heavily fished or otherwise threatened or endangered; · supporting the development of technology for rearing and releasing anadromous stocks where needed; and · administering the introduction and transfer of nonindigenous anadro- mous species. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationl National Marine Fisheries Service It is recommended that NOAA/NMFS be charged with leadership in the management and assessment of stock-enhanced marine fisheries. Such leader- ship should include: · evaluating the effectiveness of existing and future stock enhancement programs; · supporting the development of technology for (1) producing juvenile stocks needed for nonanadromous marine fisheries enhancement and related aquaculture, and (2) releasing marine stocks, where needed;
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6 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY . assessing the impact (or potential impact) of various nearshore and offshore marine aquaculture practices on the marine environment and fish- eries; and · administering the introduction and transfer of nonindigenous marine species. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationl National Sea Grant College Program It is recommended that NOAA/Sea Grant be charged with leadership in support of research and extension programs on marine aquaculture-related topics focused on preservation of the marine environment, understanding the life history of candidate species, and multiple use of marine resources, including associated social, economic, and policy issues. Candidate re- search topics include: · environmentally safe technology, methods, and systems for culturing marine species in the marine environment; · marine aquaculture technology that is synergistic with other uses of the sea (i.e., multiple use technologies); · life history and developmental biology of candidate species; · the socioeconomic dynamics of the marine aquaculture industry (e.g., effects on local employment patterns); · methods for addressing and resolving conflicts between marine aqua- culture and other competing users of the marine environment; · comparative studies of state practices regarding the regulation and promotion of marine aquaculture; and · alternative institutional and policy structures for managing marine aqua- culture in other countries. Congressional Action The development of marine aquaculture is beset with complexity that stems from unique factors that distinguish it from other kinds of agricultural activity. These are: · the interaction of marine aquaculture with other marine and coastal activities and interests- interactions often characterized by conflict; · the fact that although marine aquaculture is ocean based, it depends on the use of land and freshwater resources as well; and · the numerous environmental and regulatory considerations involved in the development and use of coastal zone land and water. This complexity entails the involvement of a number of federal, state, and local agencies that are responsible for all aspects of the advocacy,
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 7 promotion, conduct, and regulation of marine aquaculture, leading to an array of planning acts, policies, and regulations. For marine aquaculture to realize its potential, it needs to be addressed explicitly within a coordinated and coherent policy framework in federal, regional, and state ocean and coastal zone planning activities. Although most of the recommendations outlined above can be imple- mented by the designated agencies through MOUs and by the JSA under existing legislation, three unresolved policy issues need to be addressed by Congress. Completion of the Federal Policy Framework for Marine Aquaculture Coastal Zone Marine aquaculture must be explicitly included in coastal zone plans that ensure its proper consideration and evaluation in develop- ment and environmental decisions. It is recommended that Congress desig- nate marine aquaculture as a recognized use of the coastal zone in the Coastal Zone Management Act (P.L. 92-583, as amended in 1990, P.L. 101- 508~. Such designation will stimulate states to include marine aquaculture in state coastal management plans for achieving a balanced approach to land use, resource development, and environmental regulation. Federal Waters Currently, no formal framework exists to govern the - leasing and development of private commercial aquaculture activities in public waters. A predictable and orderly process for ensuring a fair return to the operator and to the public for the use of public resources is necessary to the development of marine aquaculture. It is recommended that Congress create a legal framework to foster appropriate development, to anticipate potential conflicts over proposed uses, to assess potential environmental impacts of marine aquaculture, to develop appropriate mitigation measures for unavoidable impacts, and to assign fair public and private rents and returns on such operations. Revision of Laws That Impede the Development of Marine Aquaculture The Lacey Act Environmental preservation and the protection of indig- enous species are important concerns; however, the Lacey Act (P.L. 97-79, as amended 1981, P.L. 97-79) as presently constituted, creates a barrier to the development of marine aquaculture. Control points for regulation of the. mov~.ment of living fish between states need to be based on scientific and ecological information rather than solely on state borders. It is recom- mended that the Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture conduct a comprehen- sive review of the Lacey Act to recommend to Congress revisions that could encourage the development of marine aquaculture within an environ- mentally sound regulatory framework. ,, . A . A . ~
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8 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Creation of a Congressional Committee or Subcommittee on Aquaculture As human demand for seafood exceeds sustainable yield from traditional fisheries, dependence on capture fisheries is likely to shift to dependence on aquaculture. No formal mechanism currently exists for congressional policymakers to anticipate this transition and make appropriate policy deci- sions; nor is there a mechanism for congressional oversight of the federal agency and JSA actions mandated by the National Aquaculture Act and its amendments. It is recommended that Congress consider creating an over- sight committee or subcommittee on aquaculture to provide a formal link- age between the House Agriculture Committee and the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee to ensure the implementation of existing and future policies enacted to promote aquaculture. CONCLUSION A number of benefits will accrue to the nation from the addition of an economically vital, technologically advanced, and environmentally sensi- tive marine aquaculture industry. The prospects of this emerging enterprise are for healthy and vigorous growth, given a fair share of support for the development of an advanced scientific and engineering base, along with a reasonable and predictable regulatory framework. On this basis, the envi- ronmental problems that presently constrain marine aquaculture are likely to be resolved so that it can contribute to the continued vitality of the nation's living marine resources. NOTE 1. Fish that ascend rivers from the sea at certain seasons for breeding (e.g., salmon and shad).
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