Volume 53

Sustainable Development of Offshore Aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico

Bridger, C.J.; Costa-Pierce, B.A.
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Date: 2002

Pages: 255-265

Event: Proceedings of the Fifty Third Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Fort Pierce, Florida

Country: USA


Within the Gulf of Mexico, no offshore aquaculture industry exists to provide a model for potential investors to adopt. The Gulf of Mexico Offshore Aquaculture Consortium (OAC) has initiated a planning and applied research process to develop a sustainable offshore aquaculture industry. An OAC research plan has been developed to provide a vision for the future of offshore aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico.\Proper site selection is critical to the success of aquaculture. This is particularly true in the marine environment, either coastal or offshore, where minimal control over the ambient environmental conditions are possible. Future industry planning will require the OAC to select appropriate sites to assist goveming agencies, as well as ensure success to investors.\The OAC has selected an experimental offshore aquaculture site in federal waters offthe coast of Mississippi. This site, in the vicinity of a Chevron gas platform, will provide passive protection to the cage from vessel traffic and surveillance to storm damage and vandalismo. Throughout OAC research and development, environmental issues associated with aquaculture impacts on the environment - eutrophication, biopollution and artificial reef effects - and environmental impacts on the aquaculture operation - biofouling, seasonal anoxia, sediment resuspension, episodic tropical storms - will be addressed. Legal research on the fragmented regulatory framework is being conducted, focussing on the current permitting process and determining the best Marine Aquaculture Zoning strategy for the Gulf of Mexico. Economic sustainability will be paramount, with careful observation of market situations, recording associated expenditures, and revenues from the conducted research. Finally, logistics of operating an aquaculture venture 40 kilometers from shore will require enormous engineering ingenuity.

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