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Workers harvesting a mussel raft in Shelton. (Photo: NOAA Aquaculture Program)

NOAA, DOC seek feedback on sustainable aquaculture policies

Click on the flag for more information about United States UNITED STATES
Thursday, February 10, 2011, 23:50 (GMT + 9)

The US Department of Commerce (DOC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are asking for public comment on complementary draft national aquaculture policies that bolster sustainable marine fish farming. 

DOC’s aquaculture policy was designed to support the development of sustainable marine aquaculture while simultaneously encouraging economic growth and employment opportunities in the country and enhancing its competitiveness in, and exports to, global markets. The policy covers all authorized production of finfish, shellfish, plants, algae, and other aquatic organisms for human consumption and other commercial and recreational uses; wild stock replenishment; rebuilding populations of threatened or endangered species; and restoration and conservation of aquatic habitat.
Oyster farm in the Damriscotta River in Maine. (Photo: NOAA Aquaculture Program)

Aquaculture in the US can make major contributions to the local, regional, and national economies by giving employment and various business opportunities everywhere from coastal to inland communities. 

By implementing this policy and working with partners such as the Department of Agriculture (USDA), US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Interior and the Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture, DOC believes it can also help to make the US a world leader in developing, demonstrating and applying innovative and sustainable aquaculture technologies and in encouraging worldwide use of sustainable aquaculture methods and systems.

NOAA’s draft aquaculture policy is meant to facilitate the growth of sustainable marine aquaculture within the context of the agency’s manifold stewardship missions and broader social and economic objectives.

This Administration’s policy reiterates that fish farming is an important component of its efforts to uphold healthy and productive marine and coastal ecosystems, protect special marine areas, restore overfished wild stocks, restore populations of endangered species, restore and conserve marine and coastal habitat, balance competing uses of the marine environment, generate employment and business opportunities in coastal communities and allow for the production of safe and sustainable seafood.

Microalgae tanks which supplies a steady supply of nutrients for young oysters. (Photo: NOAA Aqua. Prog)

NOAA’s Aquaculture Programme will host informational briefings for stakeholders interested in learning more about the policies and the deadline for offering comments on both policies is 11 April. The comments will be used to guide both agencies’ actions and decisions on aquaculture and to supply a national approach for buttressing sustainable aquaculture. 

A whopping 84 per cent of the seafood consumed in the US is imported, and about half of that comes from aquaculture. In 2009, aquaculture provided more than half of all seafood consumed across the globe. 

But domestic aquaculture supplies only about 5 per cent of the seafood consumed in the US, and domestic and worldwide demand for seafood is likely to amplify as a result of a burgeoning human population and consumer awareness of the health benefits of seafood.

And because wild stocks will not be able to meet greater demand even given rebuilding efforts, foreign aquaculture or augmented domestic aquaculture production, or some combination of both, will have to produce the future increases in supply.

But Wenonah Hauter, the head of the Food & Water Watch, thinks the policy is unwise, reports AP.

"Industrial ocean fish farming is a dirty way to produce fish," Hauter said.

Related articles:

- Aquaculture farms to receive USD 20 mln in grants 
- NOAA grants USD 300,000 for aquaculture extension agent 

By Natalia Real
[email protected]


Photo Courtesy of FIS Member  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA/NMFS

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