"Open ocean aquaculture is broadly defined as the rearing of marine organisms in exposed areas beyond significant coastal influence. Open ocean aquaculture employs less control over organisms and the surrounding environment than do inshore and land-based aquaculture, which are often undertaken in enclosures, such as ponds. When aquaculture operations are located beyond coastal state jurisdiction, within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ; generally 3 to 200 miles from shore), they are regulated primarily by federal agencies. Thus far, only a few aquaculture research facilities have operated in the U.S. EEZ; to date, all commercial aquaculture facilities have been sited in nearshore waters under state or territorial jurisdiction. Development of commercial aquaculture facilities in federal waters is hampered by an unclear regulatory process for the EEZ, and technical uncertainties related to working in offshore areas. Regulatory uncertainty has been identified by the Administration as the major barrier to developing open ocean aquaculture. Uncertainties often translate into barriers to commercial investment. Potential environmental and economic impacts and associated controversy have also likely contributed to slowing potential expansion. Proponents of open ocean aquaculture believe it is the beginning of the "blue revolution" - a period of broad advances in culture methods and subsequent increases in production. Critics point to concerns related to environmental protection and potential impacts on existing commercial fisheries. Potential outcomes are difficult to characterize because of the diverse nature of potential operations and the lack of aquaculture experience in open ocean areas."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32694
National Agricultural Law Center http://www.nationalaglawcenter.org/crs/