The United States plans to boost its sustainable marine aquaculture production by 50 percent in volume over the 2016-2020 period to address the nation’s growing demand for seafood.
The target equates to an annual growth rate of approximately 8 percent, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in its “Marine Aquaculture Strategic Plan” released in June. Growth in this sector over the five-year period 2008–2013 was 5 percent annually by volume.
NOAA noted that the US imports approximately 90 percent of the seafood consumed
domestically by value. “Even if all US fisheries exports were consumed domestically, the US would still remain approximately 1 million metric tons short of fulfilling current domestic demand for seafood,” said NOAA.
“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, PhD, NOAA administrator. “Expanding US aquaculture in federal waters complements wild harvest fisheries and supports our efforts to maintain sustainable fisheries and resilient oceans.”
To achieve its growth target, the agency laid out four main goals: regulatory efficiency, science tools for sustainable management, technology development and transfer, and an informed public.
Under its goal of achieving regulatory efficiency, NOAA said it would improve existing permitting processes for marine aquaculture in state and federal waters. An investor acknowledged to Aquaculture North America (ANA) that the “exhaustive permitting process” with US state and federal agencies is a bottleneck in developing the nation’s marine aquaculture. Under the plan, NOAA Fisheries will be in charge of developing regulations, issuing permits, and conducting the necessary consultations to ensure essential fish habitats and protected species are adequately protected, the agency said.