Oceanic Institute supports the National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007
A briefing conducted today in Washington, D.C., by NOAA’s Assistant Adminstrator for Fisheries, Dr. Bill Hogarth, highlighted the provisions of the 2007 Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007. The Bush Administration’s intention of introducing this legislation to Congress was announced at the annual Boston Seafood Show earlier this week by U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez. As an aquaculture research and development institute recognized around the world today, Oceanic Institute concurs that the United States should do what it can to reduce its $8 billion seafood trade deficit.
“Because there is no clear authority for the permitting of offshore aquaculture in U.S. federal waters, we fully support U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez’s efforts as he seeks to establish and implement a federal regulatory system for aquaculture in the United States,” said Bruce Anderson, Ph.D., president of Oceanic Institute.
“This is a big step in the right direction. NOAA has been responsive to many of the comments they received since they first proposed an offshore aquaculture bill a year ago. As a member of the Woods Hole/Pew Marine Aquaculture Task Force, I was pleased that they incorporated many of the recommendations of the Task Force into this proposed legislation,” said Anderson.
The most significant environmental effects from aquaculture include water pollution, introduction of non-native species, genetic effects on wild populations of fish and shellfish from escapes of farmed animals or their gametes, and impacts on threatened and endangered species (e.g., whales).
In the proposed regulation, the Secretary of Commerce is required to work with other federal agencies to develop and implement a coordinated permitting process for offshore aquaculture. “It is reassuring that NOAA recognizes the importance of working with other federal agencies,” said Anderson. “Existing authorities should be reinforced without creating conflicts or duplication.”
Concerns about the increasing use of wild forage fish for aquaculture feeds are also important. “Research on ways to reduce dependency on fish meal and fish oil from wild fish for aquaculture feeds is critical to establishing the sustainability of the industry. The Department of Commerce must work closely with the Department of Agriculture in supporting research on alternative feed ingredients,” said Anderson.
Oceanic Institute, an affiliate of Hawai‘i Pacific University, is currently working with research and industry partners in developing the technology to propagate moi (Pacific Threadfin), kahala (amberjack), and aquarium favorites such as yellow tangs, flame angelfish and other species.
As a member of the Aquaculture Marine Task Force, Anderson and his peers published a report that provides guidance in regard to the United States’ approach to an aquaculture industry. The report, “Sustainable Marine Aquaculture: Fulfilling the Promise; Managing the Risks,” was published in January.
Having heard from fishermen, scientists and aquaculture industry representatives around the country, the Task Force recommended that the United States approach this industry with the checks and balances necessary to assure that its resources not be depleted and without compromising environmental quality. “We have a chance to do it right. We owe it to ourselves, and to our future, to take a systematic and conscientious approach to this growing industry,” said Anderson.