A LEADING advocate of offshore aquaculture in the US is planning to look at the industry further afield, to promote the global growth of fish farming.
Neil Anthony Sims (pictured), president of the Ocean Stewards Institute, said that having achieved success in the States, with the opening of some federal waters to development, it was time to investigate the broader opportunities in offshore aquaculture.
‘The Ocean Stewards have worked diligently with our partners in the US over the years to successfully lay the foundation for offshore aquaculture growth in US federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico,’ said Sims.
‘This is a notable achievement. However, now that we have established a Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) for aquaculture in US federal waters, we need to consider the broader, pressing global needs – and the opportunities in this sector.’
Sims said that the Ocean Stewards will now focus on supporting offshore aquaculture initiatives wherever they may be, irrespective of national boundaries.
‘All the oceans of the earth are connected,’ said Sims. ‘We need to support a more expansive, more inclusive offshore aquaculture community.’
The Ocean Stewards have been working closely with the Coalition for US Seafood Production (CUSP) in advocating for NOAA rules for aquaculture in US waters, said Sims.
An FMP for aquaculture in federal waters was set up in February 2016, after more than 10 years of work by the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council and support by the Stewards, CUSP, and other industry partners.
NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is currently in the scoping phase for establishing a similar FMP for aquaculture in the Western Pacific (WESPAC) region, at the behest of the WESPAC Council.
‘We are now in a position where CUSP can more effectively support these advocacy efforts in the US,’ said Sims.
‘The Ocean Stewards will pursue the broader opportunity for connecting offshore industry partners worldwide, and for better supporting the industry in other jurisdictions.’
Much of the next stage of growth in offshore aquaculture is expected to be in waters where there is already an active aquaculture industry, such as in Norway, Chile, Turkey, and Indonesia.
Sims said the new vision for the Ocean Stewards recognises this, and seeks to bring together those entrepreneurs, researchers, fish farmers, feed and equipment manufacturers, feedstuff suppliers, seafood distributors and consumers.
The Ocean Stewards will be holding a general membership meeting and reception at the Aquaculture Americas conference in San Antonio, on February 21.