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Oyster aquaculture in Bodega Bay, California. (Photo: NOAA)

DOC, NOAA jointly release sustainable fish farming policies

Click on the flag for more information about United States UNITED STATES
Friday, June 10, 2011, 22:20 (GMT + 9)

The Department of Commerce (DOC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have released national sustainable marine aquaculture policies to meet the growing demand for healthy seafood, to create jobs in coastal communities and restore vital ecosystems.

Foreign aquaculture accounts for about half of the 84 per cent of seafood imported by the US, contributing to the USD 9 billion trade deficit in seafood.

“Our current trade deficit in seafood is approximately USD 9 billion,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “Encouraging and developing the US aquaculture industry will result in economic growth and create jobs at home, support exports to global markets, and spur new innovations in technology to support the industry.”

Juvenile halibut from a hatchery. (Photo: NOAA)

“Sustainable domestic aquaculture can help us meet the increasing demand for seafood and create jobs in our coastal communities,” said Jane Lubchenco, PhD, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “Our vision is that domestic aquaculture will provide an additional source of healthy seafood to complement wild fisheries, while supporting healthy ecosystems and coastal economies.”

The new aquaculture policies, which reflect the public comments received after draft policies were released on 9 February, focus on:

  • encouraging and fostering sustainable aquaculture that increases the value of domestic aquaculture production and creates American business, jobs and trade opportunities;
  • making timely management decisions based on the best scientific information available;
  • advancing sustainable aquaculture science;
  • ensuring aquaculture decisions protect wild species and healthy coastal and ocean ecosystems;
  • developing sustainable aquaculture compatible with other uses;
  • working with partners domestically and internationally; and,
  • promoting a level playing field for US aquaculture businesses engaged in international trade, working to remove foreign trade barriers, and enforcing the country's rights under US trade agreements.

    Along with its new policy, the Department and NOAA announced additional steps in the future to support the development of the aquaculture industry through:

  • Developing a National Shellfish Initiative in partnership with the shellfish industry to increase commercial production of shellfish, which would create jobs, provide locally-produced food, restore shellfish populations and habitats and improve water quality.
  • Implementing the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Plan for Aquaculture, which includes the regulatory infrastructure needed for offshore aquaculture development in the Gulf.

The domestic aquaculture industry (both freshwater and marine) currently supplies about 5 per cent of the seafood consumed in the US. The cultivation of shellfish, such as oysters, clams and mussels, comprises about two-thirds of US marine aquaculture production.

Salmon and shrimp aquaculture contributes about 25 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively. Current production takes place mainly on land, in ponds and in states’ coastal waters.

“This new focus on helping us develop and expand sustainable aquaculture is welcomed,” said Bill Dewey, a shellfish biologist and a Shelton, Washington-based clam farmer for more than 27 years. “When done right, aquaculture can improve the environment, provide jobs and reclaim American dollars that are being spent on imported aquaculture products.”

The Commerce and NOAA policies build on priorities of President Obama’s National Ocean Policy, including the emphasis on protecting, maintaining and restoring healthy and diverse ecosystems; supporting sustainable uses of the ocean; and increasing scientific understanding and applying that knowledge to make better decisions.

Related article:

- NOAA, DOC seek feedback on sustainable aquaculture policies

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