NOAA Fisheries progressing on draft of aquaculture economic development plan, garnering industry backing

A seagrove kelp farm in Doyle Bay, Alaska
A seagrove kelp farm in Doyle Bay, Alaska | Photo courtesy of NOAA Fisheries
4 Min

Stronger America Through Seafood (SATS), a group representing the U.S. aquaculture industry, has put its support behind NOAA Fisheries’ aquaculture economic development plan, which is part of NOAA’s efforts to update its National Aquaculture Development Plan for the first time in more than 40 years. 

The economic development plan stands as the third pillar of the National Aquaculture Development Plan and includes three strategic plans. The other two pillars – the Strategic Plan to Enhance Regulatory Efficiency in Aquaculture and the National Strategic Plan for Aquaculture Research – were completed in 2022.

The National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Aquaculture is leading the effort to update the economic development plan and released a draft of the plan earlier this year.

“Aquaculture expansion not only addresses food security needs but also presents an opportunity to create quality jobs and reduce our reliance on seafood imports, strengthening America's food independence,” SATS Campaign Manager Drue Banta Winters said. “Yet, to build a robust, resilient, globally competitive, and environmentally sustainable domestic aquaculture sector, federal agencies must have clear statutory authority and a timely and affordable regulatory process to establish farms in U.S. waters. Until that is established, aquaculture will remain hindered in the U.S.”

In a letter to NOAA Fisheries, the group specifically cited expanded siting analysis for future aquaculture opportunity areas in federal waters, development of science-based tools and modeling, workforce training, expanded grant and loan opportunities, and increased investments in aquaculture technology development and physical infrastructure as parts of the plan it supported.

The group also suggested adding “enhanced federal research into sustainable feed ingredients and addressing drug approvals for use of therapeutants for marine species” to the plan.

The public comment period for the draft economic development plan closed 5 April.

More broadly, SATS supports the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act, legislation introduced in 2023 that would support a nationwide permitting system for allowing offshore aquaculture in federal waters.

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