NOAA IS BENT ON AQUACULTURE: or With friends like this….

From Fish News EU

Wednesday, 22 August 2012 10:55

 “NOAA backs aquaculture”

 SAMUEL D Rauch III, NOAA’s Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, has released a statement stressing the importance of the aquaculture industry to both the US economy and the environment. Speaking on 21 August, [2012] he observed that:

“Fisheries’ responsibility as steward of our nation’s living marine resources includes fostering the development of marine aquaculture for a variety of purposes – to supply safe seafood for people; to help support domestic wild fisheries such as salmon through hatcheries; to preserve and rebuild threatened and endangered species such as abalone; and to restore habitats such as oyster reefs.

In the United States, we consume a lot of seafood, but we produce very little as far as farmed products. Most of the marine species we produce for consumption are shellfish, such as oysters, clams, and mussels. There are also operations that grow a small amount of farmed salmon in Maine and Washington State. However, there is growing interest and support for the culture of a wider variety of shellfish, marine fish, and algae. To assist, there are systems being developed that will grow fish, shellfish, and algae together in one operation to replicate the symbiotic relationship among the three in nature.

On a global scale, we export technology, feed, and investment to the booming global aquaculture trade and then import seafood from countries like China, Thailand, and Canada. While we need those imports, what we are missing is the local production piece in the value chain and the opportunity to connect people with local sources of sustainable seafood and the chance to support businesses and create jobs in coastal communities.

Last year, the Department of Commerce and NOAA released national aquaculture policies to establish a framework to allow sustainable domestic aquaculture to contribute to the US seafood supply, support coastal communities and important commercial and recreational fisheries, and help to restore species and habitat. So far, outcomes of that effort have led to:

•A National Shellfish Initiative to expand shellfish farming and restoration;

•Working with federal and state partners to expedite shellfish permitting in Maryland, Washington, California and elsewhere while maintaining environmental stewardship;

•A specific Washington State Shellfish Initiative;

•A new abalone and native oyster restoration hatchery at Manchester Lab; and

•Progress on alternative feeds and the use of fish processing trimmings and plant-based feeds to accommodate growth in aquaculture without dependence on forage fish.

We have a small, but vibrant marine aquaculture industry in the United States ready to work with regulators, seafood communities, and other partners to grow more seafood. Encouraging marine aquaculture within the context of NOAA’s stewardship mission continues to be in the public interest. To that end, NOAA will continue to work with its partners to implement the national aquaculture policies and enable robust marine aquaculture in the United States.”

 And please don’t believe this is only about shellfish, NOAA is funding and supporting all kinds of programs for artificially raising fin fish as well.  This is about corralling the profits that’s now being squandered on the artisanal “wild caught” fishing operations. 

 And what exactly would the “plant based feed” development be for if not to feed pens of Salmon and Cod and maybe some nice Tilapia and Pangasius?

 Pushing Aquaculture has been one of NOAA’s objectives for many years: 

 James W. Balsinger, the acting director at that time of the National Marine Fisheries Service, stated his position disparaging local fishermen and touting aquaculture more than two years ago in his column on page 9 of the National Fisherman in the February 2009 issue.  The title of his column was “NMFS charts a course for 2009”.  In it he stated that, “It is completely clear that the world’s wild capture fisheries are unable to meet the growing demand for seafood.  Imports account for about 85 percent of the seafood we consume, and about half of that comes from aquaculture.  Sustainable aquaculture is a tool that we should have in our nation’s tool box.  As we transition into a new administration, NMFS will continue to make clear that additional U.S. aquaculture could be an engine for job creation in coastal communities and increase the safety and sustainability of our own seafood supply.”  

And let’s not forget the “Cod Academy”

The program, officially called Cod Farming for Maine’s Commercial Fishermen, was initiated by the Maine Aquaculture Association (MAA) and developed in a partnership of MAA, Great Bay Aquaculture of Maine (GBAM), Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI) and the University of Maine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research (CCAR).

Initially, the program will offer free training in all aspects of cod aquaculture. NOAA Fisheries Service awarded an $183,000 grant for this phase of the project, dubbed Cod Academy by MAA director Sebastian Belle. In the second phase of the program, graduates will establish their own business raising and selling cod.

It is the first program of its kind in the U.S, and is modeled on government-sponsored programs begun in Norway during the late 1970s and early 1980s, which led to Norway’s becoming a world leader in fin fish aquaculture.

At that time, Belle, who has extensive experience in aquaculture in the United States and abroad, was working in Norway. “Like Maine today,” he says, “the coastal communities were facing tremendous economic challenges. The North Sea herring fishery had collapsed and sheep farmers, the other principle industry, were being outdone by sheep farmers in New Zealand.” He says the Norwegian government, looking at the success of aquaculture in Asian countries and at two pioneer fish farms in Norway, decided fin fish aquaculture would be a good option to diversify the economic base of coastal towns.

The Norwegian government funded training for young people (who had been leaving the coast for work elsewhere), set up demonstration commercial farms, and provided financing for trainees to start their own small farms. “The people who went through that program are now the owners of very successful aquaculture companies in Norway and others based in Norway and investing in other countries,” Belle says.

“Our program is very modest by comparison,” he adds, “but when I first pitched the idea to Mike Rubino of NOAA a year ago, his reaction was ‘What a great idea. I’ve never heard of anything like that. Let’s see if we can find a way to help you financially do that.’”  Expenses for the Cod Academy will be paid by the grant from NOAA. Beginning in late March, it will require weekly classroom sessions on all aspects of cod aquaculture, including the biology of cod, applying for a lease, farm management, environmental monitoring and hands-on training with early stages of cod culture at the UMaine aquaculture center. (Underlines are mine)

Clearly, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries “Service” is devoting a great deal of money and energy to promoting Aquaculture; while our “wild caught” fisheries wither and die.  However, when fishermen confront NOAA’s scientists regarding their admittedly inadequate stock surveys, the response is “Well there just isn’t the funding available for more thorough research.”

Here’s more evidence of Marine Fisheries “Service” from our Commerce Department and NOAA.

All 18 Vietnamese pangasius fillet exporters to the US have been exempted from anti-dumping taxes, announced the US Department of Commerce.”  Undercurrent News September 10, 2012

 And the results of the above policies are as follows:

 “Imports of pangasius and tilapia to the US are up year-on-year, according to figures from the national oceanic and atmospheric administration (NOAA).

10,654 metric tons of pangasius (labeled catfish in the NOAA tables) were imported in August 2012, compared to 8,255 metric tons the previous August, a 29% increase.

Tilapia imports to the US in August 2011 were 11,400 metric tons, which increased by 46% to 16,669 metric tons in August 2012.”Undercurrent News October 16, 2012

 And as for the Commerce Department’s policies effect on our Cod market:

“US imports of fresh whole cod from Iceland doubled in 2012 compared to 2011 volumes, while imports of Icelandic fresh fillets were up by 274%”.Undercurrent News December 14, 2012

 With National Marine Fisheries“Services” and friends like this…

Who Needs Enemies?

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