Earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a final rule implementing the “first regional regulatory program for offshore aquaculture” in U.S. federal waters.
This will expand aquaculture (fish farming) opportunities in the open ocean in an effort to meet the growing demand for seafood. The new rule authorizes NOAA Fisheries to issue permits for 10-year periods for the farming of several species in the Gulf of Mexico.
“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,” NOAA administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan said in a news release. “Expanding U.S. aquaculture in federal waters complements wild harvest fisheries and supports our efforts to maintain sustainable fisheries and resilient oceans.”
Traditionally, aquaculture in the U.S. has been based on oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, and salmon and currently accounts for only about 20% of the value of U.S. fishery landings. New collaborations and new technology have improved the practice of aquaculture to allow for more species to be farmed. Species that can now be farmed in the Gulf will include red drum, cobia, and almaco jack.
“This is all about managing and expanding seafood farming in an environmentally sound and economically sustainable way,” said Michael Rubino, of 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.”
To learn more:
- Read the news release: NOAA expands opportunities for U.S. aquaculture
- Read an interview with Michael Rubino: Offshore Aquaculture and the Future of Sustainable Seafood
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