Ocean Conservancy Responds to draft NOAA policy

Releases “Right from the Start” Open-Ocean Aquaculture Report
March 9, 2011

Ocean Conservancy Responds to draft NOAA policy

Ocean Conservancy, which claims to be the world's foremost advocate for the oceans, has released detailed policy recommendations in response to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s draft national marine aquaculture policy, intended to guide the expansion and regulation of open-ocean aquaculture in the aftermath of the 2009 Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s Aquaculture Fishery Management Plan.

The group said that while a step in the right direction, NOAA’s national policy is entirely discretionary and thus lacks the binding national standards needed to ensure ocean aquaculture protects the public’s interest in healthy oceans. It has released a report “Right from the Start”, which it sais "analyzes the range of environmental risks of open ocean fish farming and provides over two dozen detailed policy recommendations on how to address these concerns". 

Ocean Conservancy’s analysis, presented in a fully referenced and detailed white paper, focuses on four overarching principles that it said must be upheld if deepwater fish farms are to operate in the US in an environmentally responsible manner.  These principles are:

• Establish a Comprehensive Framework
• Utilize a Precautionary Approach
• Define and Enforce Rigorous Environmental Standards
• Protect the Commons

“NOAA’s draft policy and our new white paper should help foster a national discussion on the future of fish and the role of domestic aquaculture in our seafood supply,” explained Dr. George H. Leonard, Ocean Conservancy’s aquaculture program director.  “The regulatory status quo is not acceptable: it is adequate for neither the conservation community, the American public, the aquaculture industry, nor our nation’s ocean.

“Open ocean aquaculture should proceed only under new legally binding national standards. When poorly planned, it threatens marine life, pollutes the ocean, and squanders natural resources. And the current policy of allowing various Fishery Management Councils to produce their own regulations only makes the problem worse. It is incumbent on all of us to advocate for the lasting changes needed to ensure our children live in a world with healthy and abundant seafood,” concluded Leonard.

View the entire new Ocean Conservancy white paper on open-ocean aquaculture
Diagram detailing what Ocean Conservancy describe as some of the environmental risks involved with open-ocean aquaculture.