The Ocean Stewards Institute today announced their robust support of the recently published NOAA Aquaculture Policy, which establishes priorities for NOAA’s aquaculture initiatives and provides guidance and standards for the development of sustainable aquaculture in federal waters.
“This is a positive step forward, not only for sustainable domestic aquaculture, but also for the protection of our ocean resources,” said Neil Anthony Sims, President of the Ocean Stewards Institute and Co-CEO of Kona Blue Water Farms. “We look forward to working with NOAA to now implement this plan.”
Under the policy, NOAA will “encourage and foster sustainable aquaculture development that provides domestic jobs, products, and services that is in harmony with healthy, productive, and resilient marine ecosystems, compatible with other uses of the marine environment, and is consistent with the National Ocean Policy.”
Sims stated that the Ocean Stewards were pleased to see NOAA’s emphasis on a timely, science-based process for issuing aquaculture permits.
“Given that the increasing demand for healthful seafood is already outstripping supply, NOAA needs to move forward without additional delays,” said Sims.
The Ocean Stewards were disappointed that the policy did not include specific production goals for fostering responsible industry growth. “We strongly urge NOAA and DOC to adopt modest production goals for each of the Federal fisheries regions, to encourage investment and provide economies of scale, while providing assurances to the public that growth in offshore aquaculture is measured and rational,” said Sims.
The Ocean Stewards assert that clean, safe open ocean aquaculture, or mariculture, can reduce pressure on wild fish stocks and provide more healthful, locally-grown seafood for American consumers. A domestic mariculture industry also can help maintain working waterfronts, and fits perfectly with President Obama’s vision of green collar jobs for America’s future.
“We believe that a responsible, environmentally sound open ocean mariculture industry is an integral part of a national ocean policy,” said Sims, “that should also include sustainable fisheries management and extensive marine protected areas. NOAA should now move forward expediently in setting up the implementing regulations. ”