NOAA’s regulatory activities with respect to the authorization of marine aquaculture are conducted under a suite of federal statutes designed to address marine stewardship.
NOAA has regulatory and stewardship authority for fisheries, marine sanctuaries, marine mammals, threatened and endangered species, and habitat conservation. NOAA also engages in consultations with other agencies
U.S. marine aquaculture operates within one of the most comprehensive regulatory environments in the world. For operations in federal waters, existing regulations govern a multitude of environmental concerns including disease management, water discharge, siting of gear, seafood safety, use of medication, feed ingredients, consistency with state laws, and the protection of marine mammals, fish habitat, and threatened and endangered species. Statutes that apply to aquaculture projects in which NOAA has a role include:
- Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (1976)
- Endangered Species Act (1973)
- Marine Mammal Protection Act (1972)
- National Marine Sanctuary Act (1972)
- Coastal Zone Management Act (1972)
- National Environmental Policy Act (1969)
- Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (1934)
Under these laws, NOAA is responsible for considering, preventing and/or mitigating the potential adverse environmental impacts of planned and existing marine aquaculture facilities through the development of fishery management plans, sanctuary management plans, permit actions, proper siting, and consultations with other regulatory agencies at the federal, state, and local level.
Aquaculture As A National Policy Priority
The National Aquaculture Act of 1980 established aquaculture as a national policy priority for the U.S. and created the Interagency Working Group on Aquaculture under the National Science and Technology Council in the Executive Office of the President. Now referred to as the Subcommittee on Aquaculture, through this group, NOAA coordinates with other federal agencies on aquaculture priorities and activities.
Other federal agencies responsible for regulating aquaculture include:
- Environmental Protection Agency
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
- FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine
- FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Fact sheets have been created with information on laws and regulations implemented by other federal agencies.