US opens door to huge aquaculture expansion – Fishfarmer Magazine

US opens door to huge aquaculture expansion10 February, 2011 –

THE United States last night released its first national guidelines for the aquaculture industry – with the industry and the public are invited to comment on.

The move by the Federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) opens the door to a major expansion of fish farming in America provided wild fish stocks and the environment are properly protected.

The NOAA says the draft policy is designed to support sustainable marine aquaculture to increase the US supply of healthy seafood, create jobs in coastal and other communities, spur innovation in technology, and help restore depleted species and marine habitats.

It has classed marine aquaculture as the farming of marine organisms such as shellfish, finfish and algae for food, habitat restoration and rebuilding of wild fish stocks. The public is invited to comment on both draft policies for the next 60 days.  US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said : “Americans love seafood, and we consume approximately five billion pounds (lbs) of it each year—a significant portion of which are imports. In fact, our current trade deficit is approximately $9 billion.”

He added: “Supporting the US. aquaculture industry will encourage economic growth and employment opportunities at home, support exports to global markets, and spur new innovations in technology to support the industry.”

The NOAA says that aquaculture is playing a significant and growing role in global food production. Already, nearly half the fish consumed by people is farmed, and a significant portion of future increases in the global seafood supply will come from aquaculture. In the US some 84 per cent of the seafood Americans eat is imported, and about half of those imports are aquaculture products. The domestic aquaculture industry supplies only about  five per cent of the seafood Americans consume.

NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco said: ““If done wisely, aquaculture can complement wild fisheries while contributing to healthy oceans and coastal economies.  Sustainable aquaculture increases our country’s food security.”