Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Spring 2013


The aquaculture industry has the potential to provide jobs, food security, and stock enhancement of dangerously-depleted fishery resources. Technologies for hatchery and growout facilities, including offshore submerged cages and net pens, are constantly improving, and can be used for stock enhancement research and commercial sales effmis. In the United States, before an aquaculture facility can catch a single fish for their operations, they must obtain legal and regulatory approval for their plans. The regulatory oversight is extensive; especially so if a facility seeks to utilize offshore finfish growout cages in waters belonging to the State of Florida and/or the United States of America’s federal te1Titory within the Gulf of Mexico. To date, no project has ever received the necessary approvals and commenced operation of an offshore finfish cage within the State of Florida’s waters in the Gulf of Mexico. In part, this is due to the fact that so many different regulatory agencies need to be involved for different aspects of such a project. It seems that most projects interested in offshore finfish aquaculture in the Americas wind up in Central or South America due to a perception of excess regulatory intervention in the United States of America. To address this apparent problem, the State of Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has established a certification process and a path for entities interested in establishing a net pen in Florida waters, and will provide centralized assistance with the various other agencies that will be involved in the licensing process. The regulatory hurdles standing in the way of offshore aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico are significant and complicated. However, with sufficient attention to detail throughout the process, and the assistance of the responsible governmental agencies (as thoroughly detailed herein), it should be possible to secure all the necessary approvals for aquaculture facilities in Florida, capable of both commercial production and meaningful and responsible stock enhancement activities.


Department: MAF

MPS Track: AQU

Location: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Aquaculture

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