Propagated Fish in Resource Management

Managing the Intersection of Aquaculture Development and Invasive Species

Gary C. Matlock


Abstract.—Aquaculture development in the United States continues its expansion from freshwater into coastal and nearshore oceanic environments. As it does so, the selection of species to culture and the location of culture operations are generating much debate about the role of government entities, especially agriculture and conservation agencies, in the management of this development. Many in the industry argue that regulations are already too onerous, subsidies are too few, governmental encouragement is too little, and that the best way to correct these problems is to place all control over the development in governmental agriculture agencies. Others argue that the potential environmental impacts of aquaculture could be so adverse, or at least so uncertain that conservation agencies need to impose even more controls. This debate occurred in Texas in the 1980s as private aquaculture sought to increase the culture of nonindigenous species, in both private and public waters. The potential effects on native species in public waters led to legislation that attempted to balance economic development with environmental safeguards. However, only Texas was affected by the statute and subsequent regulations. Since the potential environmental affects of aquaculture development will undoubtedly cross local, state, and tribal boundaries, it is now felt by many that the regulation of the species cultured and sites selected should be a federal issue. The same questions about who within the federal government should have responsibility for managing aquaculture development require resolution. This paper will examine lessons learned from the Texas experience for possible application in the federal arena.