Aquaculture Policy & Regulation
NOAA Fisheries plays a central role in developing and implementing policies that enable marine aquaculture and works to ensure that aquaculture complies with existing federal laws and regulations that NOAA enforces under its marine stewardship mission.
In the United States, marine aquaculture operates within one of the most comprehensive regulatory environments in the world. Projects that are sited in U.S. waters must meet a suite of federal, state, and local regulations that ensure environmental protection, water quality, food safety, and protection of public health.
Science and adaptive management inform NOAA policy, regulatory, and management decisions regarding aquaculture in marine waters.
Current Policy and Regulatory Initiatives
NOAA is working with its federal, state, and tribal partners on a variety of initiatives stemming from the 2011 Aquaculture Policies, the recent National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan, and its mandates under the Magnuson Stevens Act and the National Aquaculture Act.
Interagency Working Group on Aquaculture
NOAA chairs the Aquacuture Regulatory Task Force under the Interagency Working Group on Aquaculture (formerly, Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture), through which federal agencies collaborate with the National Ocean Council to streamline and better coordinate federal permitting for aquaculture. The goal is to produce a more coordinated and consistent federal regulatory process that will provide protection for the ocean environment and increase efficiency, transparency, and predictability in making permit decisions. The regulatory task force has developed a shellfish permitting fact sheet as a common reference for federal agency staff working on permitting of commercial shellfish aquaculture.
National Shellfish Initiative
The goal of the National Shellfish Initiative is to increase populations of bivalve shellfish (oysters, clams, and mussels) in our nation’s coastal waters through commercial production and conservation activities. Efforts focus on encouraging shellfish aquaculture, advancing science and research, and streamlining permitting at federal, state, and local levels.
Inspired by the national initiative is the Washington State Shellfish Initiative, in which federal and state agencies, tribes, the shellfish industry, and the restoration community are working together to restore and expand shellfish resources to promote shellfish aquaculture and create family-wage jobs.
Technology Transfer Initiative
The Aquaculture Technology Tranfer Initiative was announced in concert with the 2011 aquaculture policies. The purpose is to foster the development of innovative technology for commercial aquaculture in the United States.
Rulemaking for the Gulf of Mexico Aquaculture Fishery Management Plan
NOAA is developing rules to implement a Fishery Management Plan for Regulating Offshore Marine Aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico - the first comprehensive regional approach to authorizing aquaculture in federal waters. The public will have an opportunity to comment on the draft rule before it is finalized.