Dr. Biliana Cicin-Sain, director of the Gerard J. Mangone Center for Marine Policy at the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies, led the development of a major Sea Grant policy study on U.S. offshore aquaculture.
Seafood consumption in the United States has risen to over 16 pounds per person a year. Yet most of this fish and shellfish is not "home grown." Imported seafood — much of it from aquaculture — now supplies over 70% of the seafood eaten by Americans.
Aquaculture legislation pending before the U.S. Congress and recent reports by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission all acknowledge the growing significance of domestic marine aquaculture for seafood production and the need for a federal regulatory framework for marine aquaculture.
In addition to onshore and coastal areas, the nation’s extensive federal waters, which generally begin at 3 miles off the coast and span out to 200 miles, also hold great potential to reduce the nation’s dependence on seafood imports. However, the major stumbling block to offshore aquaculture in the United States is the lack of a comprehensive regulatory framework.
Biliana Cicin-Sain, director of the University of Delaware’s Gerard J. Mangone Center for Marine Policy, recently led an interdisciplinary team of experts from across the United States in developing a detailed set of recommendations to overcome current regulatory gaps and deficiencies. The policy study was funded by the National Sea Grant College Program in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.
The team's 118-page report, Recommendations for an Operational Framework for Offshore Aquaculture in U.S. Federal Waters, provides guiding principles and specific provisions for the leasing and permitting of aquaculture facilities, site planning and assessment, potential environmental ramifications and steps for mitigating them, and proposed monitoring strategies for facilities raising native fish, shellfish, and seaweeds. The authors note that the question of management of non-native species is set aside for future debate and analysis.
"Sustainable offshore aquaculture has the potential to enhance the availability of food resources for the public," Cicin-Sain says. "Our hope is that this report will help policy makers 'hit the ground running' as consideration of pending aquaculture legislation moves forward."
The report is available on-line as a free download from Delaware Sea Grant’s Aquaculture Resource Center Web site at http://darc.cms.udel.edu/sgeez/sgeez2final.pdf The printed report may be purchased for $5 per copy from the University of Delaware Marine Public Education Office at (302) 831-8083. Credit-card orders are accepted. Or make checks payable to "University of Delaware" and mail to University of Delaware, Marine Public Education Office, 222 S. Chapel Street, Newark, DE 19716-3530.
The report's co-authors include Susan Bunsick, who worked on the project as an independent marine policy consultant and is now a policy analyst with the NOAA Aquaculture Program; John Corbin, manager of the Hawaii Aquaculture Development Program in the Hawaii Department of Agriculture; M. Richard DeVoe, executive director of the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium; Tim Eichenberg, environmental attorney and adjunct professor of law at the Vermont Law School; John Ewart, aquaculture/ fisheries extension specialist for the University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program; Jeremy Firestone, assistant professor of marine policy at the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies; Kristen Fletcher, director, Marine Affairs Institute at the Ralph R. Papitto School of Law at Roger Williams University; Harlyn Halvorson, director of the Policy Center for Marine Biosciences and Technology at the University of Massachusetts; Tony MacDonald, past executive director of the Coastal States Organization; Ralph Rayburn, associate director and extension program leader for the Texas Sea Grant College Program; Robert Rheault, president of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association; and Boyce Thorne-Miller, a consultant for national and international environmental non-governmental organizations.