2007 National Offshore Aquaculture Act
On March 12, 2007, U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez announced
that the Administration's National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007 had been sent to Congress. The purpose
of the 2007 Act is to create a regulatory framework that allows for safe and sustainable aquaculture operations for fish and shellfish in U.S. federal waters, three or more miles off the coast. The 2007 Act includes requirements
to ensure that offshore aquaculture proceeds in an environmentally responsible manner that is consistent with stated policy to protect wild stocks and the quality of marine ecosystems and is compatible with other uses of the marine environment.
With an $8 billion seafood trade deficit
, the United States is largely dependent on farmed seafood imported from other nations to meet domestic market demand. Last year, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization reported that almost half of global seafood production came from aquaculture. Currently, the United States imports 80% of its seafood and half of that is farmed. It is clear that additional domestic aquaculture
can be an effective option to reduce the nation's dependence on seafood imports, provide jobs for economically depressed coastal communities, and increase regional food supply and security.
The following documents are available for viewing or download:
Currently, there is no clear federal authority for the permitting of offshore aquaculture in federal waters. The 2007
Act addresses this problem. Specifically, the Act would:
- Authorize the Secretary of Commerce to issue offshore aquaculture permits.
- Require the Secretary of Commerce to establish environmental requirements.
- Require the Secretary of Commerce to work with other federal agencies to develop and implement a coordinated permitting process for offshore aquaculture.
- Exempt permitted offshore aquaculture from fishing regulations that restrict size, season and harvest methods.
- Authorize a research and development program for all types of marine aquaculture.
- Authorize funding to carry out the Act and provide for enforcement of the Act.
The 2007 Act, which is based on a similar 2005 proposal
, was developed in consultation with industry, conservation groups, states, the research community and others. Their collective input led to revisions
in four specific areas â€“ environmental requirements, permits, the role of the states, and research.