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Aquaculture Operations

Aquaculture Operations

Information about environmental requirements specifically relating to aquaculture.

About Aquaculture

Aquaculture is commonly defined as the active cultivation (maintenance or production) of marine and freshwater aquatic organisms (plants and animals) under controlled conditions. This definition encompasses a broad range of operations, cultivating a wide variety of organisms, using a wide variety of production systems and facilities. Aquaculture operations across the U.S. produce more than 100 species of aquatic organisms at different life stages, such as catfish, shrimp, salmon, scallops, oysters, and trout.

A common attribute of all aquaculture systems is the use of water as the medium for cultivation. Aquaculture systems must provide a constant supply of sufficiently clean and oxygenated water to support the cultivated organisms, and must carry away deoxygenated water and wastes. Systems that hold organisms within open, natural water bodies (suspended cages, net pens, or racks) rely on natural water circulation or dispersion to accomplish this water "turnover." Wastes released from these systems are not collected or managed. Closed systems employing ponds and tanks, on the other hand, must manage the supply and condition of water in the system, and must remove and manage wastes, largely consisting of wastewater.

More information from EPA
Aquatic Biodiversity - concerns about aquatic biodiversity due to aquaculture operations

More information from Conservation Groups Exit EPA
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Marine Aquaculture Task Force
Marine Problems: Aquaculture
Safe Seafood and Responsible Fisheries
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program:
-- How Fish are Caught or Farmed
-- What's Troubling Our Waters?
-- Make Choices for Healthy Oceans

Murky Waters: Environmental Effects of Aquaculture in the US (PDF) (198 pp, 9.1MB) Exit EPA

Regulations Finalized To Improve Water Quality at Fish Farms

On June 30, 2004 EPA finalized a rule establishing regulations for concentrated aquatic animal production (CAAP), or farm-raised fish facilities. The regulation will apply to approximately 245 facilities that generate wastewater from their operations and discharge that wastewater directly into waters of the United States. This rule will help reduce discharges of conventional pollutants, primarily total suspended solids. It will also help reduce non-conventional pollutants such as nutrients. In January 1992, EPA agreed to a settlement with the Natural Resources Defense Council and others in a consent decree that established a schedule by which EPA would consider regulations for 19 industrial categories. EPA selected the CAAP industry for one of those rules. Issuance of this rule completes all regulations addressed under the settlement agreement.

More information from EPA
Press Release
Effluent Guidelines - Aquatic Animal Production Industry
Federal Register - final rule

U.S. Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture

The Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture (JSA) serves as a Federal interagency coordinating group to increase the overall effectiveness and productivity of Federal aquaculture research, transfer, and assistance programs.

More information
U.S. Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture Exit EPA

Guide to Drug, Vaccine, and Pesticide Use in Aquaculture Exit EPA


This page is sponsored by EPA's Ag Center. Ag Center logo

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