The Political Economics of Marine Aquaculture in the United States

Government regulatory policies and social acceptance are critically important to the growth of marine aquaculture in the United States. In much of the country, opposition to marine aquaculture by local and national interest groups and local, state, tribal, or national policies have limited marine aquaculture to a scale far below its potential. There are several reason for this: (1) Marine aquaculture is relatively small, diverse, and (with some notable exceptions) unproven; (2) marine waters are public resources; (3) some Americans perceive potential negative effects of marine aquaculture without offsetting positive effects; (4) aquaculture faces significant social opposition; and (5) the governance system for leasing and regulation hinders the development of U.S. marine aquaculture. This article discusses five broad strategies and recent efforts to advance marine aquaculture in the United States: (1) fixing problems, (2) creating benefits, (3) building partnerships, (4) arguing effectively, and (5) reforming governance.
Nevertheless, it seems likely that progress in overcoming the political challenges to U.S. marine aquaculture will gradually continue. The reality is that aquaculture provides an ever-growing share of both global and U.S. seafood consumption. The more Americans understand and appreciate the benefits of domestic aquaculture, the more they are likely to accept and embrace the idea that we should farm seafood in U.S. marine waters.

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