More than half of the population of the continental United States resides in coastal communities, which are increasingly home to commercial shellfish aquaculture operations. Consequently, a variety of user conflicts can arise as states seek to encourage the development or expansion of shellfish aquaculture. Each of these conflicts creates the potential for opposition and legal challenges to the industry.
An understanding of the legal and regulatory context governing shellfish aquaculture can assist in managing conflicts related to the industry. Laws and regulations in some cases create or can be perceived as impediments to the growth or success of the aquaculture industry.
However, federal, state, and local legal frameworks reflect public policy choices about the multiple uses of submerged lands. Research and outreach focusing on the regulatory barriers to shellfish aquaculture can increase understanding of current legal structures and identify alternative policy options to more effectively manage submerged lands as well as the industry.
In collaboration with shellfish industry members, Rhode Island Sea Grant, and the wider Sea Grant network selected eight priority legal and policy barriers or success stories on various topics from the impact of the Endangered Species Act listings and access to public boat ramps to permitting and user conflicts.