Good Afternoon! I know that you've heard from us a lot recently, but with the recent release of the NOAA and Department of Commerce aquaculture policies, I thought it best to remind everyone what we as an agency are trying to accomplish and why it is so important for you, the public, to weigh in.
As you probably know, NOAA and the Department of Commerce released complementary aquaculture policies for public review and comment on February 9th. These draft policies are a reflection of the substantial input that we received during a public comment period in 2010 that included 'Listening Sessions' all over the country as well as an online forum. That input was critical to forming effective, balanced aquaculture policies that will enable sustainable aquaculture production in the United States and thereby meet some of the challenges that we face with regard to seafood production, healthy oceans, jobs, and food security.
These policies enable a national framework for domestic aquaculture and I thought that I would take a moment to emphasize a couple of key points. First, these policies reflect the broad context of NOAA and DOC's stewardship, social, and economic goals. They reflect the mission of NOAA, which includes the stewardship of living resources through science-based conservation and management and the promotion of healthy ecosystems. This broad mission requires a balancing of multiple public needs and interests in the sustainable use of living marine resources without compromising the long-term biological integrity of coastal and marine ecosystems.
With that said, I want to reiterate that these policies are guidance documents only -- they are not a substitute for nor do they contain statutory or regulatory prescriptions. They serve to set forth priorities, including for continued investment in science & innovation, to provide context for regulatory action, and to build on existing and yet-to-be-established partnerships among stakeholders and within the international community.
Please don't miss the opportunity for your voice to be heard. We face opportunities and challenges with regard to seafood supply and food security and need innovative, forward-thinking responses to these challenges. NOAA relies on your input to develop such responses.
Please go to this webpage to link to both policies as well as to make and view comments. The public comment period ends at midnight on April 11 - make sure to weigh in before then!
This coming week I and other NOAA staff will be at the annual Aquaculture America gathering, held this year in New Orleans, Louisiana. We're looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the policy and to discussing your businesses and activities.