FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Stephanie Dorezas
NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service will hold a series of regional workshops in September to explore and to develop a voluntary code of conduct for responsible aquaculture. The code, when complete, will provide guidance to companies considering aquaculture production in U.S. offshore waters, outside of state boundaries.
"The oceans of the United States offer great opportunities and challenges for establishing aquaculture operations to provide more fish and shellfish to a seafood hungry public,"said Penny Dalton, NOAA Fisheries director. "Anticipating that U.S. innovation and technology can meet this challenge, we will use these workshops to provide a framework for environmentally responsible offshore aquaculture development."
NOAA Fisheries will also use the code as a format for ensuring consistent review of aquaculture projects throughout the agency. The code will be a set of principles and standards for aquaculture conducted within federal waters. Use of the code will be voluntary, although often times codes are adopted by industry groups to establish minimum standards of operation for membership.
The ocean area that will be the focus of the code generally extends 3 nautical miles from land, to the limit of U.S. control at 200 nautical miles. This area, called the Exclusive Economic Zone or EEZ, was established by President Reagan in 1983. The U.S. EEZ is the world's largest, covering approximately 3.4 million square miles.
"The U.S. already imports more than $15 billion of seafood annually and runs up an annual fisheries trade deficit of $7 billion,"said Dalton. "We believe that ocean aquaculture may play an integral role in the future of the U.S. fisheries, and a code of conduct is an important step toward ensuring that aquaculture development in the EEZ is done in an environmentally sound manner," added Dalton.
NOAA Fisheries promotes the development of environmentally sound marine aquaculture through research and financial support. NOAA Fisheries also has regulatory authorities for various aspects of permitting aquaculture activities.
"Ocean aquaculture is in its infancy in the U.S., with only a few private companies and research programs in operation," said Dalton. "Getting a code or responsible aquaculture practices in place before significant development occurs is important to NOAA Fisheries' ocean stewardship mission."
The agency sponsored workshops are designed to get broad stakeholder input into the code of conduct for responsible aquaculture. The workshops will be held on the following dates:
NOAA Fisheries is exploring the possibility
of holding addtional workshops in October in Florida, Hawaii
and the Washington, D.C. area. NOAA Fisheries encourages all
interested parties to participate in these workshops as their
comments and suggestions will play a critical role in the development
of the code. Additional information regarding the workshops can
be obtained by calling Ed Rhodes at (301) 713-2334 in NOAA Fisheries Office
of Sustainable Fisheries.