National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007

By Sheril Kirshenbaum

MEMORANDUM

From:  Sheril Kirshenbaum
Cc:
Date:
Re:  The National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007

National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007

Background

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is working to enhance/increase domestic seafood supply to meet the growing demand for all seafood products.
  • Over 80% of the seafood Americans consume is imported, and at least half of those imports are farmed seafood.
  • Additional U.S. aquaculture can reduce an $8 billion seafood trade deficit, provide additional jobs and revenue, and ideally provide safe, healthy seafood.
  • Most current U.S. marine aquaculture products come from shellfish grown in onshore or in coastal areas.
  • New technology and equipment has created opportunities for seafood farming further in federal waters.
  • There are also barriers blocking the expansion of aquaculture into federal waters including no clear authority for the permitting of offshore aquaculture in federal waters.
  • The National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007 will establish the legal framework regarding permits, enforcement, and monitoring of aquaculture in federal waters.

Bill

  • 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 streamlined and coordinated permitting process for offshore aquaculture.
  • Exempt permitted offshore aquaculture from fishing regulations that restrict size, season and harvest methods.
  • Authorize the establishment of a research and development program for marine aquaculture.
  • Authorize funding to carry out the Act and provide for enforcement of the Act

Controversy

Does the bill adequately incorporate environmental safeguards and address the many problems caused by fish farms in their policy?

  • Potential risks include the large-scale release of chemicals, antibiotics, and alternative feeds, and genetically modified organisms into the ocean environment.
  • Commercial fish farms can attract and concentrate parasites and disease, which may then spread to wild fish populations.
  • Some question the safety of human consumption of genetically modified fish.

*Latest Major Action: *6/13/2007 Referred to Senate committee. Status:
Read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and
Transportation.

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