Barramundi aquaculture is regulated in the US by both individual state governments and the federal government. Numerous federal agencies provide some degree of oversight to aquaculture facilities operating in the US. These include:
- The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – which is responsible for coordinating national aquaculture policy and providing industry with research, information, and extension services;
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – which regulates waste discharge from aquaculture facilities;
- The Fisheries and Wildlife Service (FWS) – which regulates the introduction and transport of fish; and,
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine is responsible for approving and monitoring the use of drugs and medicated feeds used in the aquaculture industry.
US barramundi are farmed in closed recirculating systems – allowing for constant filtration and removal of effluents and solids with low discharge rates. Additionally, US producers have successfully developed and implemented a “Best Management Plan” (BMP). The BMP addresses practices to minimize the amount of discharged pollutants (biological, chemical, medicinal), ensures proper material storage/cleaning, and requires that facilities maintain accurate record keeping. Raising barramundi in closed systems reduces negative interactions with predators and risk of escapement.
The barramundi farming industry in Vietnam currently consists of a single farm operated by Australis Aquaculture Vietnam (AAV) that produces 2,000 tons of barramundi a year. The Vietnam-based facility is responsible for approximately 90 percent of the barramundi imports into the US (as of 2014). AAV’s barramundi are grown in low-density offshore net pens in Van Phong Bay, in central Vietnam. AAV operates a two-phase system, which includes an initial fingerling phase (1/3 of the production cycle) where 10 percent biomass production occurs in land-based tanks and a two-phased stage grow-out system in open pens in Van Phong Bay (2/3 of the production cycle) where the remaining 90 percent of the biomass production takes place. Their land-based nursery operations are required to achieve compliance with the US EPA’s standards for aquaculture. Additionally, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has conducted an environmental assessment and an independent environmental impact assessment has been conducted (a condition of site permitting). The agreement between AAV and OPIC requires that the company comply with all applicable local environmental, health, and safety laws as well as international standards outlined by the OPIC. AAV has legally committed to meet the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Environmental, Health and Safety standards for aquaculture, fish processing, and environment. The company also has a health management plan designed to avoid the introduction of disease, protocols to maintain water quality, and a fish health-monitoring and diagnostic program.
Wild fisheries for barramundi exist in Indonesia where they are primarily targeted using by hook and line, longline, and gillnet gears. The Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries is responsible for fisheries management of barramundi within Indonesia’s Exclusive Economic Zone – with local and regional governments having roles in administrating areas within 12 nautical miles offshore. Local and regional governments are also responsible for conservation and resource utilization. Management objectives for Indonesia’s fisheries are set at 80 percent Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY); however, the specific application of this to the barramundi fisheries is unknown. Management of the barramundi fishery in Indonesia is severely constrained by a lack of resources and information and as such, is considered to be ineffective. Currently there are no bycatch limits in place and no observer coverage exists in the fishery. Recent landings data is scarce and enforcement of fishery regulations is compromised by a lack of resource availability.