NOAA’s Aquaculture Program • Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee • September 24, 2014 – Silver Spring, MD • Dr. Michael Rubino • Director • Office of Aquaculture
Examples of MAFAC’s Past Actions on Aquaculture • Recommended drafting of NOAA’s 10-Year Plan for Marine Aquaculture (issued by NOAA in 2007) • Recommended creation of an office of aquaculture within NMFS and increasing budgetary resources for aquaculture • Featured aquaculture in MAFAC’s 2020 vision report • Commented on the NOAA and DOC aquaculture policies (issued by NOAA and DOC in 2011) • Commented on the National Strategic Plan for Federal Aquaculture Research (issued by White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in 2014)
Current Opportunities for MAFAC Input on Aquaculture • Comment on NOAA’s Proposed Rule to Implement the Fishery Management Plan for Regulating Offshore Marine Aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico • Provide advice on development of coordinated federal permitting process for aquaculture in federal waters. • Review progress on NOAA’s 10-Year Plan for Marine Aquaculture and provide input into strategic planning for the NOAA aquaculture program.
Proposed Rule to Implement the Fishery Management Plan for Regulating Offshore Marine Aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico (Aquaculture FMP)
Background on the Gulf Aquaculture FMP • The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) received several requests for Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs) to conduct aquaculture in federal waters. • EFPs are of limited duration and are not intended for commercial aquaculture production. • The Fishery Management Plan for Regulating Offshore Marine Aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico (Aquaculture FMP) provides the first regulatory framework for commercial aquaculture production in federal waters.
Controversy and Litigation • October 2009 - Two separate but identical law suits were filed by non-governmental organizations against the Aquaculture FMP. They challenged NOAA Fisheries’ legal authority to regulate offshore aquaculture operations under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the need for environmental standards. • August 2010 - The court dismissed the two lawsuits (‘not ripe for adjudication’). • 2012 - A decision by Hawaii District Court on the Kona Blue research project sided with NOAA Fisheries that aquaculture is ‘fishing’ under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The ruling was appealed. • October 2013 - The 9th Circuit expressly upheld NOAA’s authority.
Overview • The purpose of the Aquaculture FMP is to maximize benefits to the Nation by establishing a regional permitting process to manage the development of an environmentally sound and economically sustainable aquaculture industry in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. • Once rule is final, NOAA Fisheries expects to issue up to 20 Gulf Aquaculture Permits over a 10 year period. • Total production is capped at 64 million pounds (ww) annually • Individual production cap of 20%, or 12.8 million pounds (ww). • All other federal permits (e.g., EPA NPDES, USACE Section 10) must be secured for a Gulf Aquaculture Permit to be valid.
The Aquaculture FMP and implementing regulations will: • Establish an aquaculture permitting process. • Establish operational conditions and restrictions. • Establish permit duration of 10 years and 5-year renewal periods. • Allow the culture of native, non-genetically modified species managed by the Council (except shrimp and corals). • Provide guidelines for approval of grow-out systems allowed for culture. • Establish criteria for siting marine aquaculture facilities. • Create a restricted access zone for each aquaculture facility. • Establish numerous recordkeeping, reporting and operational requirements to minimize or mitigate potential environmental impacts. • Establish biological reference points and status determination criteria. • Specify framework procedures for modifying biological reference points and management measures. See Appendix for additional information about these actions in the Gulf FMP
Proposed Rule Is Now Open for Public Comment • Federal Register Notice published August 28, 2014 • Public comments due October 27, 2014 • FR Notice is seeking comments on rules to implement the Council’s proposed actions • FR Notice is seeking additional comments on – • Definitions of “significant risk” and “genetically modified organism” • Certain requirements relating to broodstock collection, notice of harvest, and recordkeeping • Supplemental Information Report NOTE: The federal Interagency Working Group on Aquaculture has a Regulatory Task Force, chaired by Sam Rauch (NOAA Fisheries), which is developing a coordinated permit process for aquaculture in federal waters. Anticipated completion date is early 2015.
How Does NOAA Define Aquaculture? • The propagation and rearing of aquatic organisms for any commercial, recreational, or public purpose. • Covers all production of finfish, shellfish, plants, algae, and other marine organisms for – • food and other commercial products • wild stock replenishment for commercial and recreational fisheries • rebuilding populations of threatened or endangered species under species recovery and conservation plans; and • restoration and conservation of marine and Great Lakes habitat. Source: NOAA Aquaculture Policy, 2011
What Drives NOAA’s Aquaculture Activities? • National Aquaculture Act (1980) • 10-Year Plan for Marine Aquaculture (2007) “It is, therefore, in the national interest, and it is the national policy, to encourage the development of aquaculture in the United States.” -- National Aquaculture Act • National Ocean Policy (2010) • NOAA Aquaculture Policy (2011) • DOC Aquaculture Policy (2011) • National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan (2013) • National Strategic Plan for Federal Aquaculture Research (2014) NOTE: 10-Year Plan was prepared at MAFAC’s request , and MAFAC commented on most of the other policies and plans listed here.
Aquaculture is a key part of NMFS’ Mission • Aquaculture is a part of NMFS’ Sustainable Fisheries and Species Restoration missions. • Aquaculture is a tool for: • Commercial seafood production • Restoration: habitat and species • Stock enhancement • Science research
NOAA’s Aquaculture Program Mission: Foster U.S. marine aquaculture that • Creates employment and business opportunities in coastal communities • Provides safe, sustainable seafood • Supports healthy ocean populations and ecosystems • Supports commercial and recreational fisheries Small program • - NMFS Office of Aquaculture • - Regional coordinators • - NMFS/NOS science centers • - OAR/Sea Grant Main areas of activity - Science/Research - Regulation - Innovation/Partnerships/Outreach - International Cooperation
Aquaculture Program Objectives • Increased access to sites and job creation • Improved public understanding of aquaculture and engagement in U.S. aquaculture • Improved internal support for aquaculture • Science products for aquaculture management • Develop and transfer federal R&D • International coordination
Current Program Priorities • Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Plan for Aquaculture • National Shellfish Initiative • Science to inform management and decision-making • Technology transfer to fishermen to create jobs
Gulf of Mexico Aquaculture Fishery Management Plan • Rulemaking to implement a regional permitting process for aquaculture under Magnuson-Stevens Act, and coordination with federal partners • Enable offshore aquaculture to develop in Gulf • Provide a model framework for other regions • Potential to stimulate economy (jobs and revenue for Gulf communities) and boost U.S. seafood production
National Shellfish Initiative • Working with partners to increase both commercial and restoration shellfish aquaculture • State initiatives (WA, CA, NE, Gulf, OR, AK) • Streamline permitting • Facilitate restoration • Increase locally-produced seafood, jobs • Improve water quality • Restore habitat and native oyster populations
Science and Researchto Inform Decisions • Genetics/escapes model • Benthic and water column effects • Cage culture effects • Best Management Practices (Caribbean) • Environmental Monitoring and Modeling • National Aquatic Animal Health Plan • Alternative feeds
Technology Transfer Initiative • Transfer innovative technology to develop aquaculture in the United States • Examples • Teaching New England fishermen techniques for farming cod, algae, and mussels • Stabilizing fish trimmings for feed • Developing public-private partnerships
Outreach • Partnerships • Websites (HQ and Regional) • FishWatch • New education tools: • “Science on a Sphere” • Infographics
Shifting Stakeholder Perceptions • Increasing recognition that aquaculture is part of the solution to seafood sustainability: • Media • Environmental organizations • Fishing communities
Industry and Stakeholder Action • National Shellfish Initiative • Shellfish Caucus in Congress • Coalition for U.S. Seafood Production • Outreach to Congress and the Administration
Administration Support • Aquaculture was featured in a Fact Sheet released by the White House on June 17, 2014, as two of eight “New Actions to Protect and Preserve the Ocean”. • Bolstering domestic shellfish aquaculture • “Farming more shellfish will also be an economic boon to local communities, creating jobs and investment on our shores.” • National Strategic Plan for Federal Aquaculture Research. • “Aquaculture is an increasingly integral source of safe, nutritious, sustainable seafood for consumers in the United States and worldwide.” • “Today, the interagency National Science & Technology Council’s Committee on Science is releasing a new National Strategic Plan for Federal Aquaculture Research to provide a framework for [research] coordination and collaboration across agencies.”
THANK YOU! Dr. Michael Rubino Director, Office of Aquaculture Michael.Rubino@noaa.gov 301-427-8331 http://aquaculture.noaa.gov
Permit Requirements, Eligibility, and Transferability • An aquaculture permit would be required to deploy and operate an offshore facility in federal waters and sell allowable aquaculture species. • U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens would be eligible for aquaculture permits. • Aquaculture permits would be transferable under limited conditions • Dealer permits would be required to receive cultured organisms and are non-transferable. • Landing of cultured species at non-U.S. ports would be prohibited, unless first landed at a U.S. port. • Any vessel, aircraft, or vehicle authorized for use in aquaculture operations must have a copy of the facility’s aquaculture permit onboard.
Application and Operational Requirements and Restrictions • Applicants must provide/submit: • contact information • descriptions of aquaculture systems and equipment • GPS coordinates • documentation of an assurance bond • emergency disaster plan • certification that broodstock used for fingerlings or other juveniles stocked at an aquaculture facility were harvested from federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico • certification that no GMO or transgenic species used • documentation that broodstock are marked or tagged at the hatchery • certification that cultured animals are pathogen free prior to stocking. • Gear stowage and monitoring requirements. • Use of drugs, biologics, and pesticides must comply with regulations of other federal agencies.
Duration of the Permit & Species Allowed for Culture • An aquaculture permit would be effective for 10 years and may be renewed in 5-year increments. • Allowable species would include those species native to the Gulf of Mexico managed by the Council, except shrimp and corals. The Council may request NOAA Fisheries to develop concurrent rulemaking to allow aquaculture of highly migratory species.
Allowable Marine Aquaculture Systems • Applicants must submit documentation sufficient to evaluate a system's ability to withstand physical stresses associated with storm events. • NOAA Fisheries could deny use of a proposed system or specify conditions for its use if the agency determines the system posed potential risks to essential fish habitat, endangered and threatened species, marine mammals, wild fish and invertebrate stocks, public health, or safety.
Siting Requirements and Conditions • Aquaculture operations would be prohibited in: • MPAs and marine reserves • HAPCs • SMZs • Permitted artificial reef areas • Coral reef areas • Applicants must conduct a baseline assessment and monitoring of the site. • Site must be twice as large as area encompassed by systems to allow for fallowing, and facilities must be at least 1.6 nm apart. • NOAA Fisheries will review siting criteria (e.g., depth, benthic sediments). Site may be denied if proposed system poses significant environmental risks or would result in user conflicts.
Restricted Access Zones • A restricted access zone would be established for each facility corresponding to the coordinates listed on the approved ACOE Section 10 permit for the site. • No fishing may occur in the restricted access zone and no fishing vessels may operate in or transit through the zone unless they have a copy of the facilities' aquaculture permit onboard. • The restricted access zone must be marked at each corner with a floating device, such as a buoy.
Recordkeeping and Reporting • Various recordkeeping and reporting requirements address – • escapement, entanglements and interactions with marine species and migratory birds • pathogens and disease • broodstock harvest • law enforcement requirements For example – • Permittees are required to notify NOAA Fisheries via telephone or an electronic web-based form within 24 hours of discovery of a major escapement event, entanglement or interaction with marine mammals, endangered species, migratory birds, or findings of any reportable pathogen episodes. • Permittees must also maintain monitoring reports and sales records for the most recent three years.
Management Reference Points and Framework Procedures • The proxies for maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and optimum yield (OY) would both be set at 64 million pounds (mp). • Measures that could be adjusted through framework procedures include: • Adjustments to MSY and OY • Permit application requirements • Aquaculture operational requirements and restrictions • Requirements for allowable aquaculture systems • Siting requirements • Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.
Permitting Process • Submit completed application for a Gulf Aquaculture Permit to the SERO Regional Administrator (RA) at least 180 days prior to the date that the applicant desires the permit to be effective. • SERO RA makes a preliminary determination whether the application is appropriate for further consideration. • NO: Applicant notified of any deficiencies; has 60 days to correct the deficiency or application considered abandoned. • YES: Notification of receipt of the application will be published in the Federal Register; up to 45-day comment period. SERO RA may consult with the Council and applicants have the opportunity to appear in support of the application at Council meeting.
Permitting Process (continued) • Public comment period ends and comments reviewed. SERO RA notifies the applicant of the decision to grant or deny the Gulf Aquaculture Permit. A notice in the Federal Register will be published announcing approval or denial. • SERO RA contacts the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that the applicant has received their NPDES and Section 10 permits, respectively. A Gulf Aquaculture Permit will not be issued until all other applicable permits have been secured.* • SERO RA issues the permit. • Permittees must abide by all operational requirements and restrictions and all monitoring and reporting requirements as specified in the regulations and their Gulf Aquaculture Permit. NOTE: The federal Interagency Working Group on Aquaculture has a Regulatory Task Force, chaired by Sam Rauch (NOAA Fisheries), which is developing a coordinated permit process for aquaculture in federal waters. Anticipated completion date is early 2015.