Donald Kent, United States
The necessity for the United States to increase its domestic production of seafood is clearly recognized and utilizing the nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone for marine farming is one alternative proposed to meet that need. Although the nation has experience with a wide range of marine farming, the majority of the existing industry lies within coastal waters thereby limiting regulatory experience to state resource managers.

Concerns over environmental impacts (e.g., effluent impacts) can be assuaged by the use of predictive, computer-based, oceanographic models that can be validated by direct empirical monitoring. The primary limitation to farming the nation’s federal waters is the lack of a clearly defined regulatory pathway to acquire the federal and regional permissions needed to propose, permit, install and operate marine farms in federal waters. In addition, the absence of a single federal agency to lead the review of marine farming permit applications has led to a history of application attempts being unsuccessful thereby curbing interest by investors to undertake the permit application process, resulting in missed opportunities for sustainable seafood development.

While there are regulatory challenges to developing a successful marine aquaculture industry in federal waters, recent technological advances in farming systems and environmental modeling have made the potential success of sustainable open ocean farms more likely. This presentation will detail these advances and show how science-based tools can help achieve both sustainability and food production from the sea. Further, using Hubbs-SeaWorld’s efforts to develop the first marine finfish farm in federal waters as a case study will demonstrate how a more coordinated approach to the permit process could result in the establishment of sustainable marine farms in U.S. coastal and federal waters.