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White House directs NOAA to streamline aquaculture permitting process


September 15, 2014
By Erich Luening

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Strategic plan will guide aquaculture research and facilitate public/private partnerships to help advance aquaculture in the US.

The White House wants to see new aquaculture research in order to help streamline the cumbersome permitting process involved in starting seafood farming businesses in the U.S.

 The directive is part of the Strategic Plan for Federal Aquaculture Research recently released by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as part of eight federal actions to protect and manage the nation’s oceans.

 “The Plan will guide federal aquaculture research and describes ways the government working with partners can help advance and expand domestic interests in aquaculture,” said Michael Rubino, aquaculture director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“The president highlighted our interagency work to streamline shellfish permitting, recognizing that ‘by removing barriers in the permitting process, the United States can encourage shellfish farming and help rebalance our seafood trade,’” Rubino wrote in an update to NOAA’s aquaculture web site.

“The Plan was a multi-year collaboration developed by the Interagency Working Group on Aquaculture (IWG-A), formerly called the Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture, in which NOAA Fisheries and the National Sea Grant Program play integral roles. Jeff Silverstein of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and I co-chaired a team of scientists from several federal agencies.”

 The plan was announced in June by President Obama as one of eight federal actions to protect and manage US waters. Two of these eight actions directly describe aquaculture efforts.

Building a roadmap

 NOAA officials believe that the future of domestic aquaculture will rely heavily on the continued collaboration between private and public entities to develop new technology and science.

 “This research plan provides a road map for NOAA, our federal partners, our academic research partners, and our stakeholders to effectively coordinate, collaborate, and prioritize aquaculture-related research and development activities,” explained NOAA’s head of fisheries Eileen Sobeck during the announcement.

 Shellfish, seaweed and finfish farming is a steady source of safe, nutritious, sustainable seafood for consumers in the United States and worldwide, she said.

 “But U.S. production lags behind much of the world, resulting in the import of more and more seafood from overseas and ever-increasing prices,” Sobeck said. “Today, the U.S. imports over 90% of its seafood so even as our wild harvest fisheries rebuild we cannot meet the increasing domestic demand for seafood alone through wild-caught fisheries.”

 “Aquaculture represents a big part of the future of our seafood supply and this plan will help ensure we work together to make it a bright one,” she added.

— Erich Luening


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