Report: U.S. Offshore Aquaculture a Challenge
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) says a report released by the Government Accountability Office on Friday warns that significant challenges still exist in developing an environmentally friendly and economically sustainable U.S. offshore aquaculture industry.
The report, which Rahall asked the GAO in February 2007 to conduct, underscores the need to establish a clear a regulatory framework for aquaculture in federal waters, which extend three to 200 nautical miles offshore. Rahall introduced the National Offshore Aquaculture Act in April 2007 on behalf of the Bush administration.
"The administration's proposed bill was a good first step, but it does not go far enough to ensure adequate protection for the marine environment," says Rahall. "This new report makes abundantly clear what I have long believed - any offshore aquaculture development must be done in a manner that does not jeopardize the health of our oceans or the viability of the fishing industry."
Citing the need to narrow the country's burgeoning $8 billion seafood trade deficit, the administration is trying to expand the $1 billion U.S. aquaculture industry by simplifying and accelerating the permitting process, making it easier for open-ocean fish farms to operate.