Global, Regional and National Perspectives
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Nigel Bankes, Irene Dahl and David L. VanderZwaag
The global consumption of fish and fish products has increased over the past several decades and is expected to continue to rise as the world population grows and as more individuals seek the health benefits of such products. A surging global aquaculture industry has increased the availability of commoditized fish and fish products. However, the United States has contributed little to this socioeconomic boon. In 2012, the United States was the third largest consumer of fish products, yet it imported more than 90 per cent of all seafood items. This has led to ‘a seafood trade deficit’ of over USD 11 billion. The United States’ commercial aquaculture industries supply just over 5 per cent of its seafood consumption. A trade deficit is not the only concern since most countries that export to the United States are less developed. As their economic situations improve, their local consumption of fish may increase substantially, reducing the amount available for export to satisfy US demand. Moreover, some observers worry that the fish the United States does export are higher-end and of a better quality than much of the fish it imports. Ironically, many exported fish may be processed abroad and imported back to the United States. But aquaculture in the United States is expanding, and governments have an opportunity to transform their regulatory approaches to this industry. In this chapter we first take a brief look at the historical practices of aquaculture in the United States and the present status of the industry before turning to the differing levels of federal, regional and state regulatory policy and control. The federal structure is discussed first, then a major regional program followed by information on several state programs, and several individual aquaculture facilities. The chapter concludes with some suggested changes to promote the development of the industry in the United States.
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