The ornamental aquaculture trade is a diverse sector of aquaculture and faces unique challenges which other commodity groups do not have to contend with. The United States is the world leader in imported ornamental species bringing in $65.3 million worth of imports in 2018. Conversely, the U.S. ranked 9th in terms of exported ornamental fish with only $11.4 million in 2018. A paucity of literature currently exists regarding the direct on-farm costs associated with regulatory compliance and the value of production lost due to regulations in other aquaculture sectors which led to an investigation of regulatory impacts on Florida ornamental farms. A survey was administered to ornamental stakeholders in Florida to better characterize these impacts. Direct on-farm regulatory costs totaled $5 .2 million and the value of lost production due to regulations were $23.2 million on ornamental farms in Florida.
Results from an industry-wide census have shown that there is a high regulatory burden on ornamental farmers for some regulatory categories. The restriction of beneficial drugs and chemicals resulted in the largest regulatory costs found, totaling $2.1 million across the industry. Additionally, this category had the largest value of lost production due to regulations at $8.4 million industry wide . Producers also had to manage high losses due to predators, averaging a 24% annual loss in production per farm, and were limited in the control measures to reduce predation losses. Costs due to predator control regulations totaled more than $ 500 thousand and the value of lost production due to predator regulations was $6.5 million in the Florida ornamental industry. The restriction of valuable species such as Scleropages formosus and Cichla ocellaris , led to a reported value of lost production of $1.4 million . Larger farms were also able to limit the impact from regulations better than smaller farms by spreading their regulatory costs and value of lost production across larger sales volumes.
While the values of lost production were five times higher for ornamental producers, direct regulatory costs were three times less compared to the salmonid and sportfish/baitfish sectors. The unique characteristics of the ornamental aquaculture sector, coupled with the regulatory framework in Florida, may be contributing factors to the relatively lower regulatory costs. While this study only assessed the costs and value of lost production due to regulations, further research should be conducted to analyze the benefits of environmental and human health regulations which are vital to a sustainable industry. The objective of this research was to provide policy makers and regulators with the data they need in order to make informed regulatory decisions with regards to the ornamental aquaculture industry in Florida.