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Deputy Lois Capps advocates the creation of a regulatory framework responsible for ocean aquaculture. (Photo: Capps.house.gov/NOAA/FIS)

New offshore aquaculture bill seeks to protect oceans

Click on the flag for more information about United States UNITED STATES
Thursday, July 07, 2011, 01:50 (GMT + 9)

Representative Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, has introduced the National Sustainable Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2011 (House Resolution 2373). This bill would unprecedentedly set a thorough regulatory structure for offshore fish farming development while adopting a balanced approach to address environmental, social and economic issues.

Moreover, the legislation would institute a research programme to tackle significant data gaps and make sure offshore aquaculture development is ecologically sustainable.

No national policies or laws at this time govern how ocean fish farming should be regulated in territorial waters. 

Legally binding national standards are necessary to ensure aquaculture grows without harming marine ecosystems. These standards can only be provided by new federal law, according to Capps.

“I believe that by working together we can create a common-sense framework that ensures that offshore aquaculture development proceeds in an ecologically sustainable fashion. Developing these guidelines has the potential to preserve the integrity of our fragile ocean ecosystems, meet the increasing consumer demand for seafood, reduce stress on wild fish populations and create jobs here at home,” Capps said.

Sturdy and enforceable rules are needed to ascertain that aquaculture complements, rather than competes with, US fishing activities.

“My bill is fully consistent with the president’s call to use coastal and marine spatial planning to minimize user conflicts and protect ecosystems from harm, in accordance with the newly established National Ocean Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts and Great Lakes. If marine aquaculture, especially of ocean fish, is to be part of our country’s sustainable seafood supply, our nation must have a regulatory system in place that is capable of addressing the host of unique challenges that aquaculture poses,” Capps added.

The new legislation addresses the aforementioned concerns by establishing an overarching, federal regulatory scheme for offshore fish farming that encompasses standardized, precautionary steps to protect the environment and coastal communities.

The key provisions of the legislation include:

  • Setting a clear and efficient regulatory process for offshore aquaculture with specific provisions and permit terms so as to protect marine ecosystems and coastal communities.
  • Mandating coordinated, regional programmatic environmental impact statements to provide regulatory certainty, ensure environmental protection for sensitive marine areas and limit conflicts among competing uses of the marine environment.
  • Authorizing new funds for research to give feedback necessary for adaptive, environmentally and socioeconomically sound management of this aquaculture.

Related article:

- DOC, NOAA jointly release sustainable fish farming policies 

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com

 

Photo Courtesy of FIS Member  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA/NMFS
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