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NOAA Expands Opportunities for U.S. Aquaculture

Gulf of Mexico rule opens the door for seafood farming in the open ocean

On January 11, NOAA published a final rule implementing our nation’s first regional regulatory program for offshore aquaculture in federal waters. In doing so, NOAA is expanding opportunities for U.S. seafood farming in the open ocean. NOAA and our partners are working to advance and expand U.S. aquaculture, as a complement to wild harvests, to keep our fisheries sustainable and resilient to growing demand. The new rule took into account thousands of public comments and authorizes NOAA Fisheries to issue permits for an initial period of 10 years for growing species such as red drum, cobia, and almaco jack in federal waters in the Gulf.

Marine aquaculture specifically refers to the culturing of species that live in the ocean and U.S. marine aquaculture industry primarily produces oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, and salmon. After 30 years of innovation and learning, the practices and technologies available today are significantly improved over those available during the industry’s early years. NOAA, with our partners and collaborators, has developed economically and environmentally sustainable marine aquaculture practices in U.S. waters.

And while U.S. aquaculture currently accounts for 20 percent of the value of domestic fishery landings, U.S. production still lags behind much of the world despite representing a significant opportunity for coastal communities and domestic seafood production capacity. Marine aquaculture creates jobs, supports resilient working waterfronts and coastal communities and provides international trade opportunities.

Watch the video below for a sampling of current aquaculture operations, processing, and research.