Budget increase proposed for U.S. aquaculture
The proposed fiscal 2010 budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, released this week by the Obama administration, includes a USD 2 million (EUR 1.5 million) increase in the agency's USD 4 million (EUR 3 million) offshore aquaculture research program.
The Obama administration says the increase would allow NOAA to "develop permitting guidelines, review marine aquaculture permit applications, support stock enhancement programs and inform habitat and other regulatory consultations, resulting in significant advances in NOAA's capacity to issue or consult on marine aquaculture permits."
Currently, there's no federal regulatory framework in place for offshore aquaculture. The Bush administration pushed a bill to accelerate the permitting process for open-ocean aquaculture, but the National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007 never became law.
However, the proposed increase is under fire from some environmental groups.
"Requesting increased funds to help review and issue permits is completely inappropriate and an irresponsible use of precious dollars," said Wenonah Hunter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, because no federal regulatory framework for offshore aquaculture currently exists.
"President Obama has asked federal agencies to curb spending on unnecessary projects, and NOAA should not be an exception," she added. "Federal money given to a potentially environmentally destructive and economically devastating program like ocean fish farming would be misspent. Instead, Congress and the Obama administration should be visionary and support research for more innovative aquaculture technologies, like land-based, re-circulating systems, to explore more sustainable options to meet our domestic seafood needs."
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