Regulatory Brief

 NOAA Plan for Regulating Offshore Marine Aquaculture

​National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Plan for Regulating Offshore Marine Aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico (2009-2014)

Formal Title: RIN 0648-AS65, Fisheries Management Plan for Regulating Offshore Marine Aquaculture (June 4, 2009) / Federal Register Docket No. 080225276-4124-01 Proposed Rule for Aquaculture & Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf, and South Atlantic (August 28, 2014)

Brief Description:

In 2009, NOAA invited comments on proposed approaches for regulating aquaculture in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that extends from a State’s jurisdiction 3-9 miles offshore to the U.S. territorial boundary 200 miles offshore.  The proposal outlined by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, intended to establish a comprehensive permitting and regulatory framework to manage the development of an environmentally sound and economically sustainable aquaculture industry in the Gulf of Mexico EEZ, while also managing populations of fish that are commercially harvested for seafood and other purposes. 

In 2014, NOAA published proposed regulations that would codify many of the elements in the 2009 proposed approaches, including addressing a number of animal health and welfare issues involving: appropriate disease prevention, control, and biosecurity measures; the roles of veterinarians and others involved with fish health; disease record keeping and reporting; animal health certification; the use of drugs and vaccines; and the movement of animals and products across federal and state boundaries.

AVMA Response:

While the AVMA applauds NOAA for moving forward to stimulate the development of aquaculture in the EEZ, the AVMA expressed concern for a number of animal health related issues in the proposed regulations. While AVMA appreciates NOAA’s efforts to address how aquatic livestock health might be regulated in the EEZ, the AVMA believes that the Magnuson-Stevens Act provided NOAA the authority to manage wild fisheries populations, but not the health of fish that are farmed.  As proposed, the NOAA regulations dealing with the health of farmed fish would duplicate many USDA-APHIS regulations (9 CFR) and programs.  These USDA-APHIS regulations and programs have specifically been implemented to protect farmed animals (including aquatic livestock) throughout the U.S., under the authority provided in the Animal Health Protection Act.  Furthermore, duplicating regulations would confuse aquaculture industries. 

The AVMA therefore recommends that NOAA defer regulatory responsibility for most of the animal health issues addressed in the propose rule to APHIS and, as necessary, refer to appropriate sections of 9 CFR in NOAA regulations. NOAA may also consider appropriate interagency Memoranda of Understanding to ensure clarity of jurisdictional authority.

Background Documents:

  • Federal Register notice: Availability of the Fisheries Management Plan for Regulating Offshore Marine Aquaculture (PDF) - June 4, 2009
  • AVMA Response (PDF) - August 3, 2009
  • Federal Register notice: Proposed Rule for Aquaculture & Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf, and South Atlantic (PDF) - August 28, 2014
  • AVMA Response (PDF) - October 27, 2014

Related AVMA Policies:

Related Federal Register items to which AVMA responded: