TRANSCRIPT - Linda Chaves
Chaves is the Aquaculture Coordinator for the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
How does NOAA Fisheries see the future of offshore aquaculture in
great potential for an offshore aquaculture industry in the United
States. We currently import over 75% of the seafood that we consume
in this country, and this would provide us a great opportunity to
provide some of that product for the United States.
And if it’s in our waters, we have a much better opportunity
to ensure that is safe and healthy, nutritious for the consumer.
With recent developments in submerged aquaculture net-pen cages,
we can now move into more inhospitable waters that are further offshore
which was not allowed in the past.
You mentioned that there are cleaner waters and other considerations
the aquaculture industry offshore, we can move into cleaner, deeper
waters, we can reduce conflicts with coastal users and we can provide
a much better environment for aquaculture operations to exist.
Another point, which is important, is that since we imported close
to 11 billion dollars in seafood last year and we had a 7.8 billion
dollar trade deficit in seafood products, hopefully we will be able
to stabilize that growing deficit rather than see it increasing.
Are capture fisheries insufficient to meet these future seafood
one-third of global seafood production is from aquaculture and it
is expected to grow as global wild stock harvests have pretty much
stabilized, even though we are rebuilding our fisheries in the United
States and in other parts of the world.
There’s no way that wild harvests are going to be able to
meet the growing demand for healthy seafood. Therefore, if we are
going to be able to provide that for the nation, we are going to
have to consider aquaculture and develop an aquaculture industry
in the United States.
The aquaculture industry is going to keep growing globally and it
only makes sense to have some of the economic benefits for that
expansion accrue to the United States.
Will being involved in the offshore industry help prevent problems
that the near-shore industry has experienced already?
involvement in the development of the aquaculture industry can ensure
that aquaculture development occur in an environmentally responsible
manner. We’ve already learned an awful lot from what’s
happened in other countries.
And we also have a very, very good cavalry of scientists throughout
NOAA who know quite a bit about the industry already. We’re
also involved in pilot projects in a number of places around the
country and through our cooperation with the private sector and
use of our laboratories we can ensure that development occur in
a responsible manner in the United States.
Will there be some regulations and protocols that will be observed
we expect that as a regulatory framework is established for this
development in the offshore area, there will be regulations, there
will be environmental monitoring requirements, and new environmental
standards may need to be established.
But we’re not going to know that until we become more involved,
until we’re actually out there doing a lot more monitoring.
And NOAA has a, has an obvious role in that, in that NOAA has a
definite role in the monitoring of aquaculture in the offshore area.
And also in determining whether or not existing environmental standards
are adequate and if new ones need to be established.
Will there be public input on privatizing these waters?
when someone wants to site an aquaculture operation within the EEZ
(Exclusive Economic Zone), or within the offshore area, they come
to fisheries as well as a number of other federal agencies, and
each application is reviewed on a case by case basis.
As a regulatory framework is developed, I imagine that there will
be some criteria established and there will be an opportunity for
considerable public debate as we know that this is an issue that
has gained the interest of many people.
But there is a precedent already, as with the leasing of the seabed
for oil platforms, so this is not a new concept.
Are NOAA scientists addressing the issue of raising carnivorous
species that subsist on fishmeal, which requires further fishing
of wild fish to create feed for the farmed fish, and how this type
of aquaculture often consumes more than it creates?
there is a significant amount of research being done on the development
of feeds for aquaculture and we’ve seen some really amazing
developments, where in certain aquaculture operations the ratio
of feed consumed to poundage produced has mproved dramatically;
salmonids are a great example.
So I think there are going to be considerable developments in the
area of feed and looking at other components for feeds.
But at the same time you have to take a look at the capture of those
feed fish and it’s my understanding that the harvest of feed
fish have not increased over the past 10, 20 years. What has changed
though is the percentage of fishmeal that goes into aquaculture,
as opposed to poultry or hog other industries. And what this has
done also is to increase the cost of feed.
NOAA is working with industry partners to see what types of different
species they’d like to culture. We don’t have any preconceived
ideas of what fish ought to be cultured; I know that in Hawaii moi
is being cultured, kobi is being looked at, snapper is being looked
at; of course mussels have been cultured for many years, and there’s
increasing work in that arena. Just about anything is possible.
We will be looking at a number of different species.
Anything else you’d like to add regarding aquaculture?
of the reasons that aquaculture is going to be so important for
us in the future is that we have calculated that by 2025, we’re
going to need 4 million metric tons more seafood than we are currently
consuming today, in this country. There is no way that that production
is going to come from wild stock fisheries, so we’re going
to have to go to aquaculture.
And if we are culturing fish in the United States, we have a much
better chance ensuring that those fish are safe, and that they are
nutritious, and provide a healthy protein choice for the consumer.
There have been considerable technological advances in the last
few years for offshore aquaculture. For one, there has been the
development of submersible cages which can go 40- 50-feet or more
below the surface, so that they are out of the way of high energy
and wave situations on the surface; there’s a lot of development
going on in the area of feeding technology so that no one has to
be at those pens to feed the fish.
And there’s also been a lot of advances in the area of vaccination
of fish, so that fish do not have to be fed antibiotics, so they
can be vaccinated against disease. So the United States has been
a leader in technological development for many, many years, and
I trust that we can apply that technological expertise to this new
developing industry sector.