U.S. Representative Lois Capps (D-Calif.) has reportedly introduced a bill (H.R. 2373) that would establish a federal regulatory framework for the development of offshore aquaculture. The National Offshore Aquaculture Act would provide “standardized, precautionary measures to protect the environment and coastal communities,” according to Capps.

Key provisions include (i) “establishing a clear, streamlined regulatory process for offshore aquaculture with specific provisions and permit terms to protect marine ecosystems and coastal communities”; (ii) “requiring coordinated, regional programmatic environmental impact statements to provide regulatory certainty, ensure environmental protection for sensitive marine areas, and reduce conflicts among competing uses of the marine environment”; and (iii) “authorizing new funds for research to provide the crucial feedback needed for adaptive, environmentally- and socioeconomically-sound management of this new use of offshore waters.”  

Noting that the bill is in accordance with the National Ocean Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts and Great Lakes, Capps asserts that the measure represents the first national law addressing how offshore farming should be regulated. “If marine aquaculture, especially of ocean fish, is to be part of our country’s sustainable seafood supply, our nation must have a regulatory system in place that is capable of addressing the host of unique challenges that aquaculture poses,” she was quoted as saying. See Noozhawk, June 30, 2011.