Weekly Overview: New Rule Allows for First Aquaculture Development in US Federal Waters

Feb 01, 16 Weekly Overview: New Rule Allows for First Aquaculture Development in US Federal Waters

The new rule will allow NOAA Fisheries to issue permits to grow species such as red drum, cobia, and almaco jack in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico for an initial period of 10 years. “As demand for seafood continues to rise, aquaculture presents a tremendous opportunity not only to meet this demand, but also to increase opportunities for the seafood industry and job creation,” said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., NOAA administrator. ”This is all about managing and expanding seafood farming in an environmentally sound and economically sustainable way,” explained Michael Rubino, director, NOAA Fisheries Office of Aquaculture.

“The permit process we’ve laid out accounts for the region’s unique needs and opens the door for other regions to follow suit.”  The new rule was welcomed by the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA). Tim Scates, a farmer from Carmi, Ill., ISA director and representative to the Soy Aquaculture Alliance (SAA), stated: “Allowing carefully managed aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico will provide a market for our soybeans and a domestic source of sustainable fish. Aquaculture operations can replace marine-based fishmeal with soybean meal, a proven, renewable protein alternative.”

ANALYSIS - NOAA has filed a final rule which will implement the US’s first comprehensive regulatory program for aquaculture in federal waters.

There was opposition to the new rule however from some consumer, environmental and sustainable fishing and farming organisations. In a press release, the groups claim that the Gulf of Mexico has changed significantly in the 11 years that it took to finalise the rule, with the effects of oil spills and hurricanes of fish populations and the environment still emerging. The groups are now collectively analysing their legal options to challenge the new regulations.

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