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Water: Aquaculture

Effluent Guidelines: Aquatic Animal Production Industry

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On June 30 2004, we finalized a new rule establishing effluent limitations guidelines (ELGs) for concentrated aquatic animal production (CAAP), or aquaculture, facilities. The regulation will apply to CAAP facilities that generate wastewater from their operations and discharge that wastewater directly into waters of the United States.

The CAAP ELGs will help reduce discharges of conventional pollutants, primarily total suspended solids. The regulation will also help reduce non-conventional pollutants such as nutrients. To a lesser extent, the regulation will reduce the discharge of drugs that are used to manage fish health and chemicals, such as those used to clean fish tanks and nets.

Compliance Guide for Permit Writers and Producers.

Facilities Covered

The final rule applies to existing and new CAAP facilities with the following characteristics:

  • Use flow-through, recirculating, or net pen systems
  • Directly discharge wastewater
  • Produce at least 100,000 pounds of fish a year.


When the rule is fully implemented, discharges of total suspended solids will be reduced by more than 500,000 pounds a year and biochemical oxygen demand and nutrients will be reduced by about 300,000 pounds per year.

Authority and History

The Clean Water Act directs us to review effluent guidelines and to set schedules for new and revised effluent guidelines. This effects newly permitted facilities, and existing facilities upon renewal of their (CAAP) permits. In January 1992, we agreed to a settlement with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and others in a consent decree that established a schedule by which we would consider regulations for 19 industrial categories. We selected the (CAAP) industry for one of those rules. Issuance of this rule completes all regulations addressed under the settlement agreement.

Final Rule

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Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

Proposed Rule

Preliminary Rule Development

Fact Sheet (February 2000) announcing EPA's effort to develop pollutant controls in the form of nationally applicable discharge standards (known as effluent limitations guidelines and standards) for commercial and public aquatic animal production facilities.

Data Collection

EPA collected data from aquatic animal production facilities. These data were used to support the development of effluent limitations guidelines and standards for the aquatic animal production point source category. To facilitate the data collection effort, EPA developed two questionnaires. In accordance with the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), U.S.C. 3501 et seq., Federal Agencies must obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) prior to data collection efforts. EPA obtained such approval for the Screener Survey. OMB reviewed EPA's Information Collection Request to collect data through a more detailed questionnaire. The comment period for the Information Collection Request submitted to OMB is closed.

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