NOAA Fisheries has a long history of supporting shellfish aquaculture development and the agency recognizes that sustainable aquaculture development is critical to the nation’s food security. While U.S. aquaculture production is increasing, there remain significant bureaucratic and social constraints. In an effort to compare and contrast the numerous shellfish aquaculture permitting systems and their constraints, NOAA Fisheries supported a comprehensive review of federal, state, and local shellfish permitting systems around the nation.
This report, prepared by Earth Resource Technology Incorporated, provides 15 recommendations based upon a review of 22 shellfish aquaculture permitting systems in 2016 covering all coastal states in the continental United States (East Coast, West Coast, Gulf of Mexico, and Alaska). Permitting systems in Hawaii/Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico/Caribbean are not addressed in this report. The report acknowledges the importance of fostering sustainable shellfish aquaculture in the United States and the challenges and opportunities for moving the industry forward.
Implementation of the 15 recommendations will require an executive level commitment at the federal and state level. This study also revealed the need for improved communication among federal and state shellfish aquaculture coordinators and regulators across the nation. The ‘stage’ of each state’s shellfish aquaculture development varies significantly. In many instances, problems which exist for one state have already been experienced and addressed by another. Establishing, sharing and maintaining a depository of shellfish aquaculture permitting information will enable coordinators to more quickly identify proven solutions. Using research obtained to support this study, a state-by-state spreadsheet summarizing shellfish permitting systems and industry characterization information for 22 states was prepared. This state-by-state spreadsheet and the full Evaluation of U.S. Shellfish Aquaculture Permitting Systems report are available below.