Existing Regulations

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We appear to have many regulations that govern activities in the marine environment. A short time ago I read an article about mariculture (i.e., aquaculture in the marine environment) in which it was stated that mariculture is the most regulated industrial activity in the United States, even more regulated than the nuclear power industry. Although I have no way to judge the accuracy of this statement (especially since someone who wanted more freedom for the aquaculture industry wrote it), there are in fact many regulations for putting anything new into the marine environment, possibly involving the federal government, regional boards and agencies and, at times, international agreements (Stenquist 1998).

What would be the reaction of regulatory agencies if somebody proposed to coat ships or man-made structures in the ocean with a newly developed proteinaceous substance that prevented biofouling? I do not think we know. The people here from industry do not seem to be worried about it. Is that because they have researched this subject and have found that there is nothing to worry about, or is it because they do not know and are not going to worry about it until they have a new product slated to be applied in the marine environment? If indeed regulatory problems might attend such an introduction, then such an advance in marine biotechnology might well be hindered.

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