Researchers to explore pre-permitting approach to aquaculture in New England

The labyrinthine process of obtaining the proper permits to establish fish farms in federal waters has been frequently cited as a major obstacle to the advancement of the U.S. aquaculture sector.

Currently, an application to start an aquaculture operation in federal waters is reviewed by a plethora of federal agencies including the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, NOAA Fisheries, and the Environmental Protection Agency, along with a collection of state agencies if the proposed site is located near state waters. The long review process is often cited as being too complex and costly, according to Hauke Kite-Powell, a research specialist at the Marine Policy Center of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

“It’s expensive and time-consuming,” Kite-Powell told SeafoodSource. “We know that the aquaculture industry is growing quite rapidly internationally and that we are lagging behind in the U.S. – and we certainly aren’t doing ourselves any favors by standing in the way of sustainable aquaculture development in the U.S. exclusive economic zone.”

Kite-Powell, with funding from NOAA and in collaboration with researchers from University of Massachusetts Boston and the New England Aquarium, is part of a team looking to disrupt the current process and establish a federal system for pre-permitting federal waters for aquaculture, making the permitting process smoother, quicker, and less costly for anyone trying to establish a farming operation in federal waters.

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