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Permitting process curbs US aquaculture growth

Difficulty in securing permits in federal waters is holding back mariculture development, according to Dr Jerry Schubel, the president and CEO of the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California.


February 26, 2018
By Liza Mayer
The US needs all seafood farming technologies available in order to cater to the nation’s growing need for seafood

Schubel, who spoke at Aquaculture America 2018 in Las Vegas on Tuesday, says the United States is the leader in seafood sustainability, “with fisheries management, seafood safety, workers rights, tools and techniques to make aquaculture sustainable” yet it ranks only 17th in world aquaculture production.

In his view, the costly and time-consuming permitting process is a major barrier to industry growth, but he says there is a bill now working its way through the US Congress to give the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) a legislative mandate to handle the process.

Dr Michael Rubino, director of the NOAA Fisheries Office of Aquaculture, acknowledged that “our nation has some duplicative hoops in the regulatory process right now.”

“We want to ensure quality, not by reducing the regulations, but by improving the efficiency of the process for seafood farmers to help industry reach its growth potential. For example, filling out one form, instead of five,” Rubino told Aquaculture North America (ANA).

Like Schubel, Rubino also believes the potential for offshore aquaculture is tremendous, but he says the United States will need other seafood farming technologies to supply growing local demand.

“Because our federal nutrition guidelines are asking us to eat twice as much seafood, but because majority of our seafood is imported, if we’re going to come anywhere near those guidelines from a nutrition and health perspective — to go from one meal a week to two meals a week is another 6 million tonnes of seafood — where is that going to come from? We’re going to need all these technologies — on-shore, recirculating technology, pond production, coastal production, offshore production — and we need for all those to be done responsibly and sustainably if we’re going to go anywhere near this demand for seafood. But we’re making progress,” he tells ANA.