OSI blasts open-ocean aquaculture measure
The Ocean Stewards Institute on Monday expressed opposition to language in a bill that would prevent the Secretary of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the regional fishery management councils from permitting aquaculture operations in U.S. waters.
The measure is part of the Consolidated Land, Energy and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act of 2009, which U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) introduced last September to overhaul or disband the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the federal agency that oversees the exploration of the country’s natural resources. (In the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last month divided the MMS.)
But OSI said the measure, Section 704, must be removed from the CLEAR bill for the sake of the U.S. seafood supply and Americans’ health.
“This legislation seeks to stifle growth in open-ocean aquaculture at a time when the threat to our ocean ecosystems has never been more vividly demonstrated, and when there is broad consensus that the regulatory responsibilities need to be better clarified,” said OSI.
The Department of Commerce and NOAA are already capable of creating a regulatory framework for open-ocean aquaculture, according to OSI. “However, if additional legislation is needed to better define the process for permitting and NOAA’s role in establishing regulations and monitoring industry impacts, then Congress should expeditiously pass such a bill. It should not back away from the existing legal framework that is already in place.”
In January, OSI supported legislation that would establish a regulatory framework for open-ocean aquaculture. Called the National Sustainable Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2009, the bill was introduced in December by U.S. Rep Lois Capps (D-Calif.).