"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 nautical 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. […] At the time S. 1609 was introduced, four amendments were referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation concerning environmental risks, comprehensive research and development, domestic ownership, and a prohibition on finfish aquaculture off the coast of Alaska. This report discusses four general areas: (1) operational and business-related challenges; (2) potential economic impacts; (3) potential environmental impacts; and (4) the legal and regulatory environment. It summarizes recent executive and legislative branch actions. Significant questions remain about whether an appropriate mechanism exists for any federal agency to provide an open ocean aquaculture lease with the necessary property rights to begin construction and operation. Policy makers and regulators will be challenged to weigh the needs of a developing industry against potential environmental and social impacts."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32694