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National Marine Aquaculture Initiative Project Summaries 2000

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Development of Model Codes of Practice for Environmentally Responsible Aquaculture Using the Multi-Species Maine Industry as a Foundation

Lori Howell – Spinney Creek Shellfish, Maine
Sebastian Belle – Maine Department of Marine Resources
Michael Hastings – Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center

Using the Maine aquaculture industry as a model, this project will develop model Codes of Practice as well as model worksheets for adaptation by aquaculturists throughout North America.
  • Completed a Literature Review of Existing Codes of Practice for Aquaculture and identified 20 groups who had a Code of Practice or were in the process of drafting such codes.
  • Conducted the first presentation regarding Codes of Practice to the industry at the North Eastern Aquaculture Conference and Exposition, held December 8 and 9 in Portland, Maine.
  • Organized and conducted, in cooperation with other industry groups, the Ad Hoc Work Session on Codes of Practice in conjunction with the World Aquaculture Society meeting, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, January 23, 2001.

1) Meeting photo of Ad Hoc Work Session.

Left to Right: Nathaneal Hishamunda, Robin Downey, Tim DeJager, Bill Dewey, and Lori Howell in discussions at Ad Hoc Work Session on Codes of Practice.

2) Meeting photo of Ad Hoc Work Session.

Left to Right: John Forster and Sebastian Belle during the discussion at the Ad Hoc Work Session held at WAS in Lake Buena Vista, Florida on January 2001


Maine Aquaculture industry has developed Bay Management Agreements that address biosecurity procedures. All of the state’s finfish farms have signed the agreements that establish 8 management zones each with its own management group. The agreements cover 27 active salmon rearing sites with a total of 560 cages containing 5-14 million fish, depending on time of year. The Bay Management agreements complement the industry’s existing third-party audited Code of Containment and the Guiding Principles for Responsible Aquaculture adopted by the Maine Aquaculture Association. In addition, the Maine aquaculture industry is working toward the development of Codes of Practice that will address additional areas of finfish and shellfish culture. Information on the published "Proceedings for the International Codes of Practice Summit" can be obtained by contacting Lori Howell, Maine Aquaculture Association at .Maine Aquaculture Association, P.O. Box 148, 103 Water St., 4th Floor, Hallowell, ME 04347. Tel. (207) 622-0136

Improving the Regulatory Framework for Marine Aquaculture Regional Planning and Economic Decision-making

Dr. Porter Hoagland and Dr. Hauke Kite-Powell
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts

By developing economic models, compiling data and conducting analyses, this project will contribute to the development of a procedure that will lead to more efficient and transparent licensing and permitting for marine aquaculture in the northeast U.S.

GIS presentation of harvest data.

Figure 1: Thumbnail of GIS presentation of data.

Economic model of Cod.

Figure 2: Economic model for Atlantic cod


Figure 2: Output of an operational economic model for Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) growout showing the time profile of stocking (S) and harvesting (H) a marine netpen aquaculture farm. The model takes into account the effects on growth of changes in water temperature and the risks associated with physical environmental conditions (wave height). The farm requires an investment of about $4.5 million and has a positive net present value. The farm involves 36 netpens providing 5,000 cubic meters of cage space per cohort, and uses one vessel. Fifteen hundred tons of cod are produced each year.

  • Our study is designed to contribute to the development of a methodology that will lead to more efficient licensing and permitting for marine aquaculture in the northeast region of the United States. Specifically, economic models, data, and analyses that will help marine resource managers make balanced public policy decisions based on sound legal and economic principles about the allocation of ocean space for alternative uses, including marine aquaculture. In the absence of such data and analyses, allocation decisions are likely to be influenced primarily by the political pressures exercised by special interest groups. Moreover, decision-making bodies may favor traditional activities without regard to the potential economic benefits an ocean area may truly offer. It is not expected that economic criteria or decision rules will be the only bases for ocean space allocations. Nevertheless, such criteria can provide decision makers with information about the costs of less efficient allocations.
  • Under separate sponsorship, we are developing operation models for three species of interest to New England ocean mariculture: sea scallops (Placopecten magellanicus), blue mussels (Mytilus edulis), and Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). The cod model is easily adapted to other species of finfish, such as Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus), or fluke (Paralicthys dentatus). These models estimate the cash flow of hypothetical ocean mariculture farms based on inputs such as the scale of the operation, its location, growout technologies, other input costs, and product markets. They can be used to investigate the likely profitability of ocean farming ventures and to “tune” such ventures to optimize their financial prospects. The models also can be used to estimate the cost of external effects.
  • With funding from the NMAI program, we are developing a spatial allocation model to answer a basic question: what is the economically optimal scale of marine aquaculture given an existing commercial wild harvest fishery? In this model, an “ocean manager” chooses both the optimal scale of aquaculture and levels of commercial fishing effort to maximize net economic benefits. In a simple case, aquaculture uses a portion of available ocean space to produce the same species as the commercial fishery. A larger area is needed if aquaculture is to increase output. The allocation model uses results from the bioeconomic models to estimate the net benefits of using an area for marine aquaculture. We plan to extend the model by incorporating a spatial dimension and by adding additional end uses. We plan to select two case studies to apply the model to the siting of marine aquaculture operations.
  • Background information on our ongoing efforts to develop models and datasets to support ocean aquaculture planning are available online at: Globe preceding link to offsite


    Preliminary tool for siting aquaculture can be found at: preceding link to offsite

  • A comparison of access systems for onshore public natural resources in the United States and for ocean space for aquaculture in US coastal states and in other nations has been accepted for publication (Hoagland et al. 2002).
  • Developed a framework that allows the explicit analysis of the tradeoffs between aquaculture operations and commercial wild harvest fisheries. A paper analyzing the framework with an empirical example has been accepted for publication (Jin et al. 2002a)
  • Extended operational models of the economics of ocean aquaculture for both finfish and shellfish by incorporating parameters that describe the rate of increase in operational costs as a function of distance from port. This extension allows determination of an effective offshore "limit" for open-ocean aquaculture. Both types of operational models have been accepted for publication (Kite-Powell et al. 2002a, 2002b). These models will be used for the two case studies.
  • Assembled a regional planning group (RPG) for ocean aquaculture in New England, whose efforts will be coordinated electronically.

Figure 1: An overlay of economic values for ocean aquaculture and commercial fishing off the coast of Massachusetts. The boxes are geographic ten minute squares that display estimated average net revenues from commercial fishing of all types during the spring, summer, and autumn of the years 1995-97. The colors represent estimated averages during this period of the ranges of net profits or losses summed over all fishing vessels: dark blue (losses): <-$25,000; light blue (losses): -$25,000 to $0; beige (profits): $0 to $25,000; orange (profits): $25,000 to $50,000; light brown (profits): $50,000 to $100,000; dark brown (profits): >$100,000. The yellow lines delimit estimated bid-rent zones (areas of positive profits) for the growout of summer flounder (Paralichthes dentatus) in ocean netpens (which might take place during the spring to autumn in New England). The zones are derived from a model of the economics of netpen operations that incorporates transportation costs as a factor that constrains the distance of such operations from some of the major fishing ports in the region. Note that aquaculture facilities and associated buffer zones are likely to occupy only a very small proportion of the area in any ten minute square. Even so, comparisons of data such as these can help resource managers and stakeholders begin to understand the economic consequences of the siting of aquaculture facilities and thereby help to reduce potential conflicts among potentially exclusive ocean uses. Data sources: NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center and WHOI Marine Policy Center.

Final Report

Marine Aquaculture and the Environment: A meeting for stakeholders in the Northeast

Dr. Harlyn Halvorson – University of Massachusetts

Through a workshop, this project will bring together members of the aquaculture industry, environmental groups, government and academia to understand the barriers to the development of sustainable marine aquaculture and to facilitate a collaborative approach to address these challenges.

  • The meeting was held January 11-13, at the University of Massachusetts Boston campus and 130 individuals participated.
  • Participants heard 27 presentations over four talks on marine aquaculture.
  • Following each topic small breakout groups met led by 18 facilitators with 20 scribes to answer questions intended to spark exchange.
  • Meeting participants reached consensus on a number of points, including the need for zoning and comprehensive planning and that aquaculture can have negative and positive environmental effects.
  • The conference proceedings are now being edited and will be published as a book.

A National Planning Effort to further National Marine Recirculating Aquaculture

Dr. George Flick – Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Parties involved in recirculating aquaculture will be included In designing a plan to develop recirculating aquaculture science and technology for the commercial production of food. Scientific and technical information will be published using standardized criteria, thereby enabling the comparison of research and demonstration efforts.

Identification and Mitigation of Legal and Regulatory Hurdles to Offshore Aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico

Kristen Fletcher and Dr. Barry Costa-Pierce – Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium
Erinn Neyrey – Louisiana Sea Grant Legal Program
Ralph Rayburn – Texas Sea Grant College Program

This project will provide an unbiased university-based approach for regulatory change and facilitation between regulators, industries, and other stakeholders. This project is the beginning of a multi-phased effort to develop an efficient and transparent permitting process and future production of a user-friendly guide to aquaculture siting and permitting in the U.S. EEZ.

Developing Environmental Codes of Practice for the Pacific Coast Shellfish Industry

Robin Downey - Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers’ Association, Washington
William Dewey III – Taylor Shellfish, Washington

This project seeks to establish an Environmental Codes of Practice for shellfish growers along the Pacific coast. This code of practice will implement the Environmental Policy Statement already drafted by the Pacific coast shellfish aquaculture industry as a component of the effort to develop an Environmental Management System for shellfish aquaculture on the Pacific coast.

    Hand harvesting of Oysters.Digging Chapmans Cove 2.
  • On October 28, Alaska shellfish growers kicked off the first in a round of workshops that will be held up and down the West Coast. At this workshop, the first draft of the Environmental Codes of Practice was unveiled and is now available for review by the Environmental Management System Regional Committees.
  • Pacific Shellfish Institute, PCSGA’s research arm, is in the process of developing a comprehensive bibliography of research conducted on the interactions of shellfish aquaculture on the marine environment. PCSGA is in the process of developing an interactive data base that will allow growers to access this information.

A Code of Conduct for Net-Pen Salmon Farming

Dr. Conrad Mahnken – Washington Fish Growers’ Association
Dr. Robert Iwamoto – National Marine Fisheries Service, Washington

This project will establish a Code of Conduct for net-pen farming in the Pacific northwest. Experts from NMFS and regional stakeholders will evaluate the risks and benefits of net-pen farming in the region and together with the Washington Fish Growers’ Association, will use this scientific, technical and regulatory information to produce the code.

  • The immediate objective of the project is to produce a Code of Conduct for Net- pen Salmon Farming in the region prepared by stakeholders in partnership and based on objective science.

  • A Code of Conduct for Net-pen Salmon Farming can be a major cornerstone in building a national Code of Conduct for Responsible Aquaculture applicable to any farming system with any aquatic species in an environment.
  • Using a literature review of all scientific and technical information concerning salmon net-pen farming, followed by an analysis and assessment of risks and benefits of the industry led by the NMFS scientists, the Washington Fish Growers Association will lead the preparation of the Code of Conduct and Code of Practices documents. The project is interfacing throughout with stakeholders and the public, and with reviews from national and international experts.
  • Globe preceding link to offsite   Code of Conduct work

Strengthening Aquaculture Planning and Coordination in the Pacific Region

Dan Swecker – Pacific Aquaculture Caucus Secretariat, Washington

This project will strengthen the newly-formed pacific Aquaculture Caucus (PAC) by holding three sub-regional events in Alaska, Idaho/Washington, and Oregon/California. The goals of these meetings are to increase membership among the grass-roots of the industry, expand its constituency and geographic influence and through the strengthened organization, become an advocate for the industry and partner implementation of the National Aquaculture Development Plan and the new Aquaculture Policy of the Department of Commerce.
  • PAC is a newly-formed partnership of stakeholders in the Pacific Northwest. A strong stable PAC can be a credible voice and leader of orderly and appropriate development of aquaculture in the region; it can help implement government policies, promote economic benefits, and raise the public perception of aquaculture.
  • This is an institution-strengthening project to enable PAC to complete its organizational structuring, expand and broaden its membership, and trigger more activities of its Action Plan. To support this growth and expansion, PAC in its first full year of development will sponsor regional workshops in Alaska, Idaho/Washington, and Oregon/California.

Evaluating Open Ocean Aquaculture Sites Using GIS and Regulatory Processes in Hawaii

Dr. Charles Helsley – University of Hawaii

This project will identify offshore sites among the main islands of Hawaii that will be suitable for marine aquaculture and subsequent development of open ocean aquaculture parks by incorporating existing federal, university, and state oceanographic data sets into a geographic information system.

Development of a Framework for Addressing State/Federal Aquaculture Activities

Jeffrey Brust, Lisa Kline, Heather Stirratt, Carrie Selberg
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, 1444 Eye St NW, Sixth Floor Washington D.C. 20005

The Commission, in cooperation with the NMFS, will conduct a workshop of state, federal, industry, and university aquaculture experts to review the FAO "Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries" Article 9 (Aquaculture Development) and develop a similar framework for use by Atlantic coast state, federal and inter jurisdictional fisheries management agencies in addressing aquaculture issues. The intent of these documents is to provide guidance on addressing developmental and environmental issues relating to aquaculture activities in state waters. Workgroups will be assigned the task of further development of these technical requirements. This work, and compilation of a draft document, will be coordinated by Commission staff. A second workshop will be conducted to finalize the framework and technical requirements to ensure support from all fisheries management agencies.

  • The first workshop was held January 8-9, 2001 in Baltimore, MD with 15 state, 6 federal, 3 university, 7 industry, and 1 NGO representatives.
  • During the workshop, five workgroups were established, with each workshop participant active in two workgroups. The workgroups will develop recommendations to address specific issues in the following broad categories: a) Siting/permitting/monitoring;  b) Environmental; c) Biological/ecological integrity; d) Industry development and marketing;and e) Administration/regulation/law enforcement/data collection
  • Workgroup recommendations will be finalized by June 15 and compiled into a draft report which will be distributed for review prior to a second workshop in early August to finalize the report.
  • The final report will be distributed for public comment.
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