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Joint National Aquaculture Policies Released

US - The Department of Commerce and NOAA have announced the release of their national sustainable marine aquaculture policies that aim to meet the growing demand for healthy seafood, 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 $9 billion trade deficit in seafood.

“Our current trade deficit in seafood is approximately $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.”

“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;
  • promoting a level playing field for US aquaculture businesses engaged in international trade, working to remove foreign trade barriers, and enforcing our 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 five 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 contribute 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 clam farmer of more than 27 years based in Shelton, Washington.

“When done right, aquaculture can improve the environment, provide jobs and reclaim American dollars that are being spent on imported aquaculture products,” he said.

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.

the Fish Site Editor

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