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Director's Corner - February 2014

by Dr. Michael Rubino

February 2014

Good afternoon! I hope that you all enjoyed the holiday season and made time to share with friends and family. Now that we’ve all settle back in to work, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the accomplishments of NOAA’s aquaculture program (which includes NOAA Fisheries, the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), and Sea Grant) in 2013 and what we’re looking forward to in 2014.

As NOAA works to end overfishing, domestic marine aquaculture is becoming an increasingly important tool to create jobs and provide domestic seafood.  In 2013, we worked to enable marine aquaculture in the U.S. by facilitating permit reviews, advancing aquaculture science, and transferring technologies from our labs to the private sector.  NOAA and DOC’s 2011 Aquaculture Policies, the Technology Transfer Initiative, and the National Shellfish Initiative continue to be the drivers behind much of our effort to increase access to sites, advance the science of modern aquaculture, and improve public understanding of aquaculture’s important role.

Improving Access to Sites for Marine Aquaculture

In 2013, we worked with other NOAA offices, Army Corps of Engineers, industry, the restoration community, and state and tribal partners to improve access to sites for marine aquaculture.  For example:  

Robust Science Supports Sustainable Aquaculture

The science branch of our program develops knowledge to support NOAA’s management responsibilities and supports innovation in marine aquaculture.  In 2013 we developed and refined state-of-the-art tools to assess environmental effects of  finfish farming. These include

We worked with the National Aquatic Animal Health Task Force and NW states and tribes to implement monitoring protocols in response to an unconfirmed report of infectious salmon anemia virus (ISAV) in Canada. The first year of surveillance did not result in any positive findings of ISAV in the Pacific NW.

Finally, we worked with USDA, FWS, and other agencies through the Interagency Working Group on Aquaculture (formerly the Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture or JSA) to develop a Federal Strategic Plan for Aquaculture Research.  We incorporated extensive public comment received last summer and expect that the Administration will publish the plan this year. 

Supporting Research with Federal, Academic, and Private Sector Partners

The Aquaculture Program works with a variety of partners to advance aquaculture science and develop and transfer advanced technology:

Several NOAA grant competitions to encourage development of sustainable marine aquaculture.  Prior awards have contributed to the creation of algae farms in New England; a fishermen-operated Integrated Multi-trophic Aquaculture project in Portsmouth, NH; aquaculture training in Maine; the expansion of oyster farming in Maryland; and other increases in aquaculture production.  In 2013, highlights of these competitions include

Improved Public Understanding of Aquaculture

One of our goals is to provide quality information to the public. The Aquaculture Program disseminated information through its new website, via social media and our newsletter, in stakeholder meetings, and by communicating with journalists. We developed pages for several aquaculture species on to help consumers make informed seafood choices.

We created two of videos. One, entitled ‘Exploring U.S. Aquaculture’ gives an overview of domestic marine aquaculture. The other, ‘Marine Aquaculture: A promising Future’ examines how aquaculture is creating opportunities for commercial fishermen. We created a podcast, ‘Feeds of the Future,’ that discusses the evolution of aquaculture feeds.  We also worked with Seaweb to produce an Aquaculture Webinar Series to discuss the science of sustainable marine aquaculture.

Looking Forward to 2014

While the Aquaculture Program accomplished much in 2013, we continue to work with our partners to advance environmentally-responsible domestic aquaculture. Some specific objectives include:

Thank you, as always, for your interest and support.  Have a healthy and prosperous 2014!