Federal waters off the coast of southern California and in the Gulf of Mexico will become the first two regions to host Aquaculture Opportunity Areas, confirms NOAA Fisheries.
This selection is the first step in a process to establish ten such areas nationwide by 2025. These two regions were chosen based on the already available spatial analysis data and current industry will to develop sustainable aquaculture operations in the region.
“Naming these areas is a big step forward,” said Chris Oliver, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “The creation of Aquaculture Opportunity Areas will foster the US aquaculture industry as a needed complement to our wild capture fisheries.”
Aquaculture Opportunity Areas are called for in the May 2020 Executive Order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth. They are defined as geographic areas that have been evaluated for their potential for sustainable commercial aquaculture. To identify each area, NOAA will use scientific analysis and public engagement to highlight regions that are environmentally, socially and economically appropriate for commercial aquaculture.
Each of the first two areas may accommodate around three to five commercial aquaculture operations, but this will vary depending on the specifics of the location. The size and shape of operations in each area will be determined as part of identification process, looking at aspects such as type of species, maximum annual farm production and monitoring considerations.