Aquaculture for all

NOAA to Oversee Obama's Aquaculture Guidelines


NEW YORK, US - The Obama administration will develop federal aquaculture regulations, including a system that could permit offshore fish farming in the ocean waters for the first time, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said today.

Locke addressed a Senate hearing as another Cabinet agency, the Interior Department, turned away from a controversial Bush administration proposal that would have expedited a permitting system for offshore aquaculture under the Minerals Management Service. He said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will oversee the preparation of the Obama administration's fish-farming guidelines, writes Allison Winter in a Greenwire report published by the New York Times.

According to the news organisation, in its final rule (pdf) for offshore renewable energy projects, released yesterday, Interior said it would not authorize aquaculture projects. The move is a reversal from the Bush administration's proposal, which would have opened the door for the government to fast-track offshore fish farms.

The new rule passes oversight of any deepwater fish farms to Commerce's NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service. But Locke made it clear today that the administration is not giving up on efforts to advance aquaculture that started under the Bush administration, although his department may take a different course.

"As wild fish stocks decline, it is important to be able to have more aquaculture," Locke told the Senate Appropriations panel overseeing funding for his department. "NOAA needs to engage in a program to set up criteria and rules in which safe aquaculture can be provided. We intend to pursue this and help provide those guidelines."