Inefficient, cumbersome and restrictive regulations are hampering the success and growth of U.S. aquaculture.
U.S. farmers face a comptetive disadvantage with foreign imports.
More than 1,300 federal, state or local laws apply to American farms.
Compliance requires significant direct and indirect costs for farmers.
The economic effects of the implementation of regulations on aquaculture farms in the United States, while of concern, are not well understood. A national survey was conducted of salmonid (trout and salmon) farms in 17 states of the United States to measure on‐farm regulatory costs and to identify which regulations were the most costly to this industry segment.
The drivers of farm-level costs of fish health inspections were identified in this study from national survey data on U.S. salmonid farms. The greatest costs identified were related primarily to state fish health requirements for inspection and testing to certify that fish are free of specific pathogens prior to approval of necessary permits to sell and/or transport animals. Study results suggest that implementing Comprehensive Aquaculture Health Program Standards might allow for risk- and pathogen-based reductions in the total number of inspections and fish sampled while maintaining equivalent or greater health status compared to current methods.
The US regulatory environment has been characterized as complex due to the greater than 1300 laws promulgated at local, state, and federal levels. Recent declines in the growth rate of US aquaculture have been attributed, in part, to a complex, overlapping, and inefficient regulatory framework. This study is the first to examine this question by quantifying the farm‐level regulatory burden and its economic effects in an aquaculture industry sector. A survey was conducted of baitfish and sportfish producers in the 13 major production states in the USA to identify the direct and indirect costs of regulation on producers.
The stringency of the regulatory environment has been shown to negatively affect the growth of aquaculture. A technical efficiency analysis of baitfish/sportfish production in the United States was performed using a stochastic production frontier model and a jointly estimated maximum-likelihood procedure.
A survey was conducted of the Pacific coast shellfish industry (Washington, Oregon, and California) to assess the on-farm economic effects of regulations. The total annual regulatory burden for the Pacific coast, excluding non-cash opportunity costs, was estimated at $15.6 million (increased farm costs due to regulation), with an additional $110 million in annual lost sales revenue (markets lost due to regulatory action or trade barriers) and $169.9 million in additional lost opportunities (due to regulatory barriers to expansion or diversification); average annual costs were estimated to be $240,621 per farm and $68,936 per hectare.
The various production techniques, species, and destination markets make ornamental aquaculture an interesting study in how regulations impact the industry. In Florida, aquaculture is primarily regulated under the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, unique from other states. Regulatory costs and the value of lost production on ornamental farms in Florida were estimated to be $5.2 and $23.2 million, respectively. Although the values of lost production were high for ornamental producers, direct regulatory costs were low compared with other aquaculture commodities demonstrating that the industry in Florida may prove a regulatory model for other sectors.
Hybrid Striped Bass (HSB) and Red Drum Sciaenops ocellatus (known commercially as redfish) are important commercial sectors of foodfish production in the USA. The objective of this study was to measure the regulatory compliance burden on U.S. HSB and Red Drum farms. Results showed that the regulatory costs were one of the greatest costs of production, at 22% of total costs on HSB farms and 15% on Red Drum farms. Per-farm, the regulatory cost burden was $152,698 ($1.20/kg) on HSB farms and $274,746/farm ($1.44/kg) on Red Drum farms. In addition, lost sales revenue on HSB farms was found to equal 92% of total sales revenue, at $31.3 million, and 54% of total sales revenue on Red Drum farms, at $13.6 million.
Regulatory constraints have likely contributed to the contraction of the HSB sector from 2012 to 2018 and likely dampened the sales growth observed in Red Drum farming over the same time period. Smarter and more cost-effective approaches to regulatory oversight of U.S. aquaculture are needed that allow for growth to meet increased demand for locally produced food and to remove the economic incentives to import seafood produced under less environmentally sustainable conditions than those in the USA.
The growth of aquaculture, both in terms of the volume of production and the diversity of species and production systems, has created challenges for effective animal health policies. This paper presents results of a case study of the costs to a sector of U.S. aquaculture in which producers raising fish that are sold and shipped live contend with widely differing requirements for testing and certification of aquatic animal health. These are compared to related costs under a proposed uniform standard.