Aquaculture News

Amendment 2 Information

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The following link provide information on Amendment 2 that is on our current ballot and other amendments that are also found on this year's ballot. 

https://floridataxwatch.org/research/2020-voter-guide

FAA General Membership Meeting *Recording*

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The 2020 FAA General Membership Meeting recording can be found via the following link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/3549527409934968584

Thank you to Mr. Dennis Peters with Ocean Era for your presentation on the Velella Epsilon Project and offshore aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico.

FAA General Membership Meeting

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Please join us for our annual general membership meeting on Oct. 13th at 10:00 AM. This year, due to COVID-19 concerns, the meeting will be held virtually via GoToWebinar. You will be able to call-in or attend from your computer. 
Please register using the following link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7430958486860250896

Please see the document (HERE) for our agenda. 


You can renew your FAA membership prior to the meeting, online, at https://www.flaa.org/join-now

We look forward to 'meeting' with each of you are we review the past year and move forward with the upcoming year. Please feel free to pass this information along to others that may be interested in becoming involved in the Florida Aquaculture Association.  

NOAA Seeking Public Comments on the First Marine Finfish Farm in Federal Waters

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has published a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed development of a commercial-scale finfish aquaculture facility to be located in Federal waters off the coast of southern California. The proposed facility would require two Federal permits: A Section 402 Clean Water Act (CWA) permit, and a Section 10 Rivers and Harbor Act (RHA) permit, over which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), respectively, have authority. The EPA and USACE will act as cooperating agencies for purposes of this EIS. This NOI initiates the public scoping process for the EIS during which time interested parties are invited to provide comments on the proposed project, its potential to effect the human environment, means for avoiding, minimizing, or mitigating those effects, the preliminary reasonable range of alternatives, and any additional reasonable alternatives that should be considered.
 
To identify a site for the proposed action, the applicant, Pacific Ocean AquaFarms (POA) sought spatial analysis expertise from the NOAA National Ocean Service (NOS) to identify potential offshore locations that would be technically and commercially feasible while minimizing environmental effects. The technical and commercial parameters for the proposed project were established by the applicant to identify potential sites. Those parameters included, but were not limited to the following:

  • Within 35 nautical miles (65 kilometers) of suitable port(s);

  • Minimum and Maximum Depth to Seafloor: ≥ 100 feet (30 meters) and < 495 feet (150 meters);

  • Suitability for Species: California yellowtail (Seriola dorsalis)—(other native or naturalized species may also be cultivated that have the same requirements for temperature, space, and other fixed parameters); and

  • Gear Type: Submersible net pen.

POA proposes to construct and operate a new commercial-scale, offshore source of finfish in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone approximately 4 nautical miles (7.4 kilometers) off the coast of San Diego. An area of approximately 1,000 acres (4 square kilometers) (exact area to be determined based on engineering design) is sited as suitable for potential use; of this, approximately 717 acres (2.9 square kilometers) would be occupied by the project, including a total of 28 submersible pens, anchors and mooring lines, and surface marker buoys. The total area may change relative to the exact location of the pen grids, the relative depth of the pens, and the final engineering requirements that would delineate the location, number, and depth of mooring lines. Initial production is projected to yield 2.2 million pounds (1,000 metric tons) annually growing up to 11 million pounds (5,000 metric tons) after environmental monitoring confirms that each successive scale of expansion has not resulted in any substantial environmental or space-use impacts. California yellowtail (Seriola dorsalis) would be the initial cultivated species, as it is native to California waters. Other local species such as white seabass (Atractoscion nobilis), may be grown in addition to or in lieu of California yellowtail when the project has become operational under Federal and state permit requirements.
 
Written comments on the scope of the analysis to be considered in the draft EIS must be submitted no later than October 26, 2020.
 
Two public meetings (in webinar format) are scheduled for October 14, 2020 at 3 p.m.-5 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time and October 16, 2020 at 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. The webinar link for October 14 and 16, 2020, is https://bit.ly/34sj1UT. You may also participate by phone toll-free at 844-621-3956 with access code: 146 738 1449.
 
You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2020-0117, by using the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to https://beta.regulations.gov/document/NOAA-NMFS-2020-0117-0001 . Click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
 
For further information contact Steve Leathery, National NEPA Coordinator, NMFS; phone: 301-427-8013; email: poa.eis@noaa.gov; or website: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/aquaculture/pacific-ocean-aquafarms-environmental-impact-statement.

FDA Proposes Food Traceability Reporting Requirements for Fish and Shellfish

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The FDA is proposing to establish additional traceability recordkeeping requirements (beyond what is already required in existing regulations) for persons who manufacture, process, pack, or hold foods the Agency has designated for inclusion on the Food Traceability List. The proposed rule, “Requirements for Additional Traceability Records for Certain Foods” (Food Traceability Proposed Rule) is a key component of the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint and would implement Section 204(d) of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The proposed requirements would help the FDA rapidly and effectively identify recipients of those foods to prevent or mitigate foodborne illness outbreaks and address credible threats of serious adverse health consequences or death. The proposed rule is posted to the Federal Register.
 
At the core of this proposal is a requirement for those who manufacture, process, pack or hold foods on the Food Traceability List (FTL) to establish and maintain records containing Key Data Elements (KDEs) associated with different Critical Tracking Events (CTEs).  While the proposed requirements would only apply to those foods on the FTL, they were designed to be suitable for all FDA-regulated food products. FDA would encourage the voluntary adoption of these practices industry-wide.
 
FDA is proposing these products for the Food Traceability List:

  • Finfish, including smoked finfish: Includes all finfish species, such as cod, haddock, Alaska pollack, tuna, mahi mahi, mackerel, grouper, barracuda, and salmon; except does not include siluriformes fish, such as catfish.

  • Crustaceans: Includes all crustacean species, such as shrimp, crab, lobster, and crayfish.

  • Mollusks, bivalves: Includes all species of bivalve mollusks, such as oysters, clams, and mussels; does not include scallop adductor muscle.

DATES: Submit either electronic or written comments on the proposed rule by January 21, 2021. All submissions received must include the Docket No. FDA–2014–N–0053 for ‘‘Requirements for Additional Traceability Records for Certain Foods.’’
 
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments as follows. Please note that late, untimely filed comments will not be considered.
 
Electronic: Visit https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FDA-2014-N-0053-0056 to read or download the Federal Register notice and supporting documents or to submit comments. The electronic filing system will accept comments until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time at the end of January 21, 2021.
 
Mail/Hand Delivery/Courier (for written/paper submissions): Dockets Management Staff (HFA–305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Comments received by mail/hand delivery/courier (for written/paper submissions) will be considered timely if they are postmarked or the delivery service acceptance receipt is on or before that date.

USDA Encourages CFAP 1 Applicants to Apply for CFAP 2

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If COVID-19 continues to impact your aquacuture farm, then signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2).  The application period opened on Sept. 21, 2020 and will continue through Dec. 11, 2020. CFAP 2 provides eligible producers with direct financial assistance due to market disruptions and associated costs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CFAP 2 is a separate program from the first round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, now referred to as CFAP 1. Farmers and ranchers who participated in CFAP 1 will not be automatically enrolled and must complete a new application for CFAP 2.
 
To watch a USDA video that describes applicability and applying click here.  Or jump right into CFAP 2 application information specific to US aquaculture by clicking here.

Senators Wicker, Schatz, and Rubio Re-Introduce AQUAA

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U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced the bipartisan Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act of 2020 to establish national standards for sustainable offshore aquaculture. The bill would designate the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as the lead federal agency for marine aquaculture. The legislation would also direct NOAA to harmonize the permitting system for offshore aquaculture for farms in federal waters, and direct the agency to lead a research and development grant program to spur innovation throughout the industry. Currently, there are no active aquaculture farms in U.S. federal waters. Click here to read the bill.

NAA Update: Corps Seeking Public Comments on Revised and New Nationwide Permits

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Corps Seeking Public Comments on
Revised and New Nationwide Permits

The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has posted for public comment a revised Natoinalwide Permit and two new Nationwide Permits that concern marine aquaculture.

Nationwide Permits (NWPs) authorize certain activities under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. The Corps is proposing to reissue an existing NWP 48, Commercial Shellfish Mariculture Activities, with modified associated general conditions and definitions. We are also proposing to issue five new NWPs. Two of those proposed new NWPs would authorize certain categories of mariculture activities (i.e., NMP 54 A seaweed and NWP 54 B finfish mariculture) that are not authorized by NWP 48.
 
We are proposing these modifications to simplify and clarify the NWPs, reduce burdens on the regulated public, and continue to comply with the statutory requirement that these NWPs authorize only activities with no more than minimal individual and cumulative adverse environmental effects. The Corps is requesting comment on all aspects of these proposed nationwide permits. Submit comments on or before November 16, 2020.
 
To read or download the Federal Register Notice, click here.
 
You may submit comments, identified by docket number COE– 2020–0002 and/or RIN 0710–AA84, by any of the following methods:
 
Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://beta.regulations.gov/docket/COE-2020-0002/document. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. At this website documents pertinent to NWP 48 and NWP 54 A and B are posted separately for reading or download.
 
Email: nationwidepermits2020@ usace.army.mil. Include the docket number, COE–2020–0002, in the subject line of the message.
 
Mail: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Attn: CECW–CO–R, 441 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20314–1000.

CFAP Payout Data

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Coronavirus Food Assistance Program
Payout Data

The US Department of Agriculture is posting Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) economic assistance data to a “dashboard” that is updated weekly. As of this past Monday, $74.71 million had been paid out to eligible aquaculture crops.  Click here to access the dashboard.
 
The summary provides number of applications approved applications as well as those that have been signed by producers but not yet approved. The payment figure represents only the approved applications that have forwarded for payment processing. An interactive US map highlights payouts by state.
 
Data will be updated and released each Monday by 2 p.m. EDT
 
Please note, currently the dashboard provides data for CFAP 1. CFAP 2 data will be available in the coming weeks.

Celebrate National Aquaculture Week!

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Celebrating Aquaculture Week 2020!

This week NOAA Fisheries and our partners will celebrate National Aquaculture Week. NOAA Fisheries and its predecessor agencies have been involved in aquaculture for more than 125 years, pioneering fish culture methods and stock enhancement techniques to replenish wild stocks. Many culture, hatching, and rearing techniques currently used by the industry worldwide were developed in NOAA labs, such as the Milford, Connecticut lab for mollusks; the Manchester, Washington, lab for salmon; and the Galveston, Texas lab for shrimp.
 
Marine aquaculture is an important part of the agency’s strategy for economic and environmental resiliency in coastal communities and supporting healthy oceans. In 2017, US aquaculture producers raised 32 million pounds of salmon, 36 million pounds of oysters, and 9 million pounds of clams along the nation’s coast. In total farmed raised seafood accounted for 21 percent of the U.S. seafood production by value in 2017. Around the nation in many fishing and coastal communities, aquaculture is creating important economic opportunities and year-round employment. 
 
Watch for more outreach, social media leading into National Seafood month, which is October. 

NAA Update: Join a USDA Sponsored CFAP 2 Producer Webinar

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Join the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Farm Service Agency, as the agency introduces a NEW round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2)!  

CFAP 2 provides direct support for producers who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic since April 2020. USDA listened to producer feedback during the first round of CFAP, and CFAP 2 has been adapted to better meet the needs of impacted farmers and ranchers of non-specialty and specialty crops, livestock, dairy, eggs, aquaculture, and nursery crops and cut flowers.
 
Date:  Thursday, September 24, 2020
 
Time:  3:00 pm EDT
 
Registration:  Click here.

Attend the webinar to learn about expanded eligibility for certain commodities, new payment categories including a sales-based approach to specialty crops and other specific commodities, and information on how to apply.  

Producers can apply for CFAP 2 between now and December 11, 2020. Aquaculture producers can find more information at https://www.farmers.gov/cfap/aquaculture.   

USDA hosts Stakeholder Call on the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) on Monday, September 21, 4:00 p.m. (Eastern)

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Please join USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation Under Secretary Bill Northey and Farm Service Agency Associate Administrator Steve Peterson on Monday, September 21, 4:00 p.m. (Eastern) for a stakeholder call on the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2).

 

USDA is implementing a second sign up of the CFAP for agricultural providers who continue to face market disruptions and associated marketing costs because of COVID-19. Signups will begin September 21, 2020 and continue through December 11, 2020 through local Farm Service Agency locations.

 

How to Participate:

The Stakeholder Call will be conducted virtually using Microsoft Teams Live Event.

 

Click here to join the meeting: JOIN THE MEETING

 

(Please note that Teams Live events are limited to a maximum of 10,000 participants)

 

Tips to prepare for the Live Event using Microsoft Teams:

  • There will be an anticipated delay from broadcast of the event to the live stream attendees will be viewing on Teams.

  • Teams Live Event provides a one-direction broadcast. Attendees will not be able to present their own video or utilize their microphones during the Live Event.

  • There will be a Q&A opportunity during the event. You may submit a question at any point.

    • Click on the chat icon in the center menu bar to open a sidebar chat window that will allow you to type your question or comment. 

    • Please identify yourself when you ask a question to help us best address your inquiry.

  • This Live Event will be recorded.

  • Teams Live Event offers closed captioning. To turn on closed captions, click the event menu ellipses and then click “Turn on live captions (preview).” Note that this feature is still in preview/development, and the live captions may not be available on all systems/platforms.​

  • Teams Live Event offers the ability to pause the meeting. If you would like to pause the meeting, click the pause button in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. To resume the meeting, click the button again to play. If you would like to jump to real-time, click on "Live" which is located next to the play/pause button.

 

For questions about the program, please contact cfap.webinars@usda.gov.

 

To learn more about how to apply, a complete list of eligible commodities, payment rates and calculations can be found on www.farmers.gov/cfap.

GOAL 2020: To The Extremes – Plotting Aquaculture’s Land-Based and Offshore Trajectories

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This is featuring Florida's own, Thue Holm from Atlantic Sapphire.

Global Aquaculture Alliance...

"

Every year, the heart of the GOAL conference is always the presenters and speakers. Virtual GOAL will be no different in that respect.

 

To close out GOAL 2020 on a high note at 2 PM EDT on Oct. 8, Session 8 is one you won't want to miss. It will feature two panels, as well as the Innovation Award finalists' pitches and voting, all moderated by Global Aquaculture Advocate Editor James Wright.

  • Panel Discussion: Land-Based Aquaculture — 2:00 pm to 2:30 pm

    • Speaker: Erik Heim | Nordic Aquafarms

    • Speaker: Thue Holm | Atlantic Sapphire

    • Speaker: Alf Gøran Knutsen | Kvaroy Arctic

    • Speaker: Ohad Maiman | The Kingfish Company

    • Moderator: James Wright | Global Aquaculture Alliance

  • Panel Discussion: Offshore Aquaculture — 2:30 pm to 3:00 pm

    • Speaker: Dick Jones | Blue Ocean Mariculture

    • Speaker: Neil Sims | Ocean Era

    • Speaker: Philip Schreven | De Maas SMC/ Pan Ocean Aquaculture

    • Moderator: James Wright | Global Aquaculture Alliance

  • You Be the Judge: Global Aquaculture Innovation Award Finalists Make Their Pitch, Sponsored by Preferred Freezer Services/Lineage Logistics — 3:00 pm to 3:45 pm

    • Speaker: Marke Luecke | Prairie AquaTech

    • Speaker: Innovation Award Finalist #2 (to be announced Sept. 21)

    • Speaker: Innovation Award Finalist #3 (to be announced Sept. 28)

    • Moderator: James Wright | Global Aquaculture Alliance

All presentations will be made available to GAA members on-demand following their original stream to take into account various time zones.

 

This year’s program consists of eight separate sessions plus an opening session running from Tuesday, Oct. 6, to Thursday, Oct. 8.

VIEW GOAL 2020'S FULL PROGRAM

 

Already a GAA member? GAA will provide you with log-in credentials to the GOAL 2020 conference platform and application closer to the conference.

 

Not a GAA member? Join GAA to access the functionality of the virtual event and receive all GAA member benefits. Individual membership is only $50. Reach out to Jason Trott to get started.

UF IFAS Farm Labor Supervisor COVID-19 Safety Training: How to Protect Your Farm Labor

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UF IFAS is providing additional free trainings on how to protect your workers, supervisors, and essential personnel from contracting COVID-19! Training will be based on CDC guidelines. we encourage all your employees who are in direct contact with farm workers to attend. Instructions will be given by videoconference in English or Spanish. You will receive a copy of resources to help you access further information related to COVID-19 and assist you in obtaining masks and other materials. 

Pre-registration is required. To regsiter please send an email to Barb Hyman at hymanb@ufl.edu and include:

  • Which date you would like to attend (9/24, 10/7, 10/13, 10/21; all session ar 10:00 AM- 12:30 PM)

  • Your company name and address 

  • Your email and phone number 

  • Names of those who will be attending, their job title and which language they prefer 

Upon receiving your email, you will be sent the Zoom link. It is suggested that you set up your free Zoom account before the meeting, if you do not have it already. We will include the website in our email. ​

Public Comment Requested Proposed “Guidelines for Safely Deterring Marine Mammals”

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The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) allows for specified persons to employ measures to deter marine mammals from damaging fishing gear and catch, damaging personal or public property, or endangering personal safety, as long as these measures do not result in death or serious injury of marine mammals.

The MMPA directs the Secretary of Commerce, through NOAA’s NMFS, to publish a list of ‘‘guidelines’’ for use in safely deterring marine mammals under NMFS’ jurisdiction and to recommend ‘‘specific measures,’’ which may be used to nonlethally deter marine mammals listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). While the guidelines and specific measures are not mandatory, the MMPA provides protection from liability under the MMPA for take resulting from such deterrence measures by specifying that any actions taken to deter marine mammals that are consistent with the guidelines or specific measures are not a violation of the act.

NMFS has not evaluated these deterrents for effectiveness. This rulemaking also includes prohibitions on certain deterrent methods that NMFS has determined, using the best available scientific information, would have a significant adverse effect on marine mammals. The Federal Register notice describing the proposed guidelines can be accessed by clicking here.
 
Comments must be received by October 30, 2020.
 
You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA– NMFS–2020–0109, by either of the following methods:
 
Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal:
1. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2020-0109;
2. Click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields;
3. Enter or attach your comments.
 
Mail: Submit written comments to Chief, Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East- West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

USDA Posts Hurricane Preparation and Recovery Guides

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People who live and work in the Southeastern United States are unfortunately familiar with the devastation and loss of life and property that can accompany a hurricane event. While hurricanes have always been a threat to the Southeast, with an average of over two strikes per year since 1900, the threat posed by hurricanes is growing. Recent studies suggest that as ocean temperatures continue to rise, hurricane intensity is increasing. Hurricanes of the future will likely be slower-moving, higher category hurricanes that produce destructive winds and flooding.
 
To help producers remain resilient and productive in the face of this threat, the USDA Southeast Climate Hub, along other USDA agencies and university Extension experts, developed the Finfish Producers Guide and Crawfish Producers Guide to help US aquaculture prepare for and recover from hurricane events.
 
USDA's Climate Hubs are a unique collaboration across the department's agencies. They are led by Agricultural Research Service and Forest Service senior Directors located at ten regional locations, with contributions from many other programs including the Natural Resources Conservation ServiceFarm Service Agency, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Risk Management Agency. The Climate Hubs link USDA research and program agencies in their regional delivery of timely and authoritative tools and information to agricultural producers and professionals.

US-Norway Aquaculture Sector: A two-part free webinar series

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The Marine Technology Society extends an invitation to join Innovation Norway and the U.S. Commercial Service to learn about the U.S. and Norwegian aquaculture markets and exciting innovations in the industry. This series will help you discover new applications for your marine technology products, find investment opportunities, and discover insider knowledge about the world’s leading aquaculture global hub.

Webinar 1
Introducing the Norwegian Aquaculture Industry Value Chain, Partnerships & Opportunities

When - Tuesday, September 22nd, 1:00 - 2:30 PM eastern

Presentations feature the Norwegian ecosystem, specifically NCE Aquatech Cluster, Salmar (TBC), and Aquaai regarding the challenges, opportunities, and Norway as a test market for marine technology products. They will cover:

  • Current technical challenges

  • Market opportunities for U.S. companies in Norway

  • Diversity of technologies and R&D

  • Norway as a test bed for U.S. innovations, with a focus on green technologies

Webinar 2
Aquaculture Market Opportunities in the United States
 

When - Thursday September 24, 2020, 9:00 - 10:30 AM eastern
 
Presentations focus on aquaculture market opportunities in the United States. Presenters include representatives from the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences at University of Florida, Nordic Aquafarms, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as SelectUSA on their offering to support companies entering the U.S. market. They will cover:

  • Latest developments and trends in the United States

  • Business/investment opportunities

  • Supply chain development

To register, click here.

Virtual Panel Series "Exploring Sustainable Seafood" Debuts October 13th

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Starting on October 13th, the Aquarium of the Pacific's Seafood for the Future program will host a special virtual panel series to explore sustainable seafood. The 11-part series will feature scientists and experts who will discuss the big picture of sustainable seafood and its role in and relationship with climate change, nutrition, livelihoods, policy, society, and more.
 
Panelists will also explore responsible seafood farming, or marine aquaculture, as a tool to sustainably expand our seafood supply. The series will be pre-recorded. The Seafood for the Future program will host a live Q&A session at the end of the series on November 19th.
 
This is a FREE event and RSVP is not required. Watch this trailer for a sneak-peak and visit this website for additional information.

NAA Update: Recording of the COVID-19 Economic Impacts Webinar Posted!

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During September 4th, the US Aquaculture SocietyNational Aquaculture Association and Alabama Cooperative Extension Service presented a free webinar entitled, Impacts of COVID-19 on US Aquaculture, Aquaponics and Allied Businesses.
 
A webinar recording is now available on the “Aquaculture Education and More” YouTube channel at  https://youtu.be/kK2fUfjbdmc.
 
To read or download quarterly nationwide, species-specific or regional analyses, click here.  If you have questions or comments, please contact Jonathan van Senten (jvansenten@vt.edu) or Matthew Smith (smith.11460@osu.edu).

Please watch for and respond to their third quarter COVID-19 economics impact survey when it is released.  Your time and effort does make a difference.  Thank you!

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NAA Update: Updated Registered Aquaculture Export Facility Inspection Program

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The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), is updating the Registered Aquaculture Export Facility inspection program. New requirements and processes will become effective September 28, 2020 for ALL future facility inspections and re-inspections.
 
APHIS is hosting a webinar to provide an overview of the upcoming changes including:

  • NEW inspection checklist and country-specific requirements

  • NEW approval letter template

  • UPDATED pre-export testing guidance

The webinar begins at 3:00 PM Eastern Time on September 22, 2020; you may join the conference 10 minutes prior.
 
Step 1: Dial into the conference.
Dial-in: 888-251-2949 or 215-861-0694
Access Code: 5001042#
 
Step 2: Join the conference on your computer.
Entry Link: https://ems8.intellor.com/login/832032
 
When you access the entry link above, you will be provided a choice - to install the WebEx plug-in for your preferred browser or to join the web conference using a temporary path. Either option is acceptable.
 
Need technical assistance?
Audio Connection: 1-888-796-6118 or 1-847-562-7015
Web Connection: 1-888-793-6118
 
Please direct questions to Dr. Alicia Marston – Live Animal Import & Export, Aquaculture Specialist (alicia.r.marston@usda.gov).

NAA Update: USDA Providing Additional Pandemic Related Direct Assistance

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President Donald J. Trump and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced up to an additional $14 billion for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19. Signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) will begin September 21 and run through December 11, 2020.

Background:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will use funds being made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and CARES Act to support row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy, aquaculture and many additional commodities. USDA has incorporated improvements in CFAP 2 based from stakeholder engagement and public feedback to better meet the needs of impacted farmers and ranchers. 

Producers can apply for CFAP 2 at USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices. This program provides financial assistance that gives producers the ability to absorb increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Producers will be compensated for ongoing market disruptions and assisted with the associated marketing costs.

CFAP 2 payments will be made for three categories of commodities – Price Trigger Commodities, Flat-rate Crops and Sales Commodities.  Aquaculture is included under Sales Commodities.

Sales Commodities

Sales commodities include specialty crops; aquaculture; nursery crops and floriculture; other commodities not included in the price trigger and flat-rate categories, including tobacco; goat milk; mink (including pelts); mohair; wool; and other livestock (excluding breeding stock) not included under the price trigger category that were grown for food, fiber, fur, or feathers. Payment calculations will use a sales-based approach, where producers are paid based on five payment gradations associated with their 2019 sales.

Aquaculture species eligible for CFAP 2 includes any aquatic organisms grown as food for human consumption, fish raised as feed for fish that are consumed by humans, and ornamental fish propagated and reared in an aquatic medium. Eligible aquacultural species must be raised by a commercial operator and in water in a controlled environment.This includes molluscan shellfish and seaweed that was previously covered under the U.S. Department of Commerce program.

Eligible sales only include sales of raw commodities grown by the producer. The portion of sales derived from adding value to the commodity, such as processing and packaging, and from sales of products purchased for resale is not included in the payment calculation.

CFAP 2 payments are available for eligible producers of aquaculture commodities, which are categorized as sales commodities. Payment calculations will use a sales-based approach, where producers of eligible commodities are paid based on five payment gradations associated with their 2019 sales.

Visit farmers.gov/cfap/aquaculture for more information on CFAP 2 eligibility and payment details related to aquaculture. If your aquacultural operation has been impacted by the pandemic since April 2020, we encourage you to apply for CFAP 2.

Eligibility

There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined. Applicants who are corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships may qualify for additional payment limits when members actively provide personal labor or personal management for the farming operation. In addition, this special payment limitation provision has been expanded to include trusts and estates for both CFAP 1 and 2.

Producers will also have to certify they meet the Adjusted Gross Income limitation of $900,000 unless at least 75 percent or more of their income is derived from farming, ranching or forestry-related activities. Producers must also be in compliance with Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions.

Applying for Assistance

Producers can apply for assistance beginning Sept. 21, 2020. Applications will be accepted through Dec. 11, 2020.

Additional information and application forms can be found at farmers.gov/cfap. Documentation to support the producer’s application and certification may be requested. All other eligibility forms, such as those related to adjusted gross income and payment information, can be downloaded from farmers.gov/cfap/apply. For existing FSA customers, including those who participated in CFAP 1, many documents are likely already on file. Producers should check with FSA county office to see if any of the forms need to be updated.

Customers seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP 2 application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. This is a recommended first step before a producer engages with the team at the FSA county office.

USDA to Host CFAP Producer Webinar August 19 to Discuss Newly Eligible Crops

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The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will host a webinar on August 19 at 3 p.m. ET to discuss recently added commodities eligible for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). 

Join the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) for detailed examples on specialty crops, nursery crops, cut flowers, eligible aquaculture and more. USDA has extended the deadline and is accepting applications for CFAP through September 11.

Register Here

Additional Resources:
CFAP Home Page
CFAP Impact Posters

Viewable/unpublished Federal Register Notice of Program Additions

NAA Update: USDA Announces Aquaculture Eligible Commodities for CFAP Economic Assistance

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Today, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the eligibility of aquaculture crops for Coronavirus Food economic (CFAP) assistance. 
 
Producers of eligible aquaculture commodities can begin submitting CFAP applications the week of August 17.
 
Eligible commodities include:

  • catfish,

  • crawfish,

  • largemouth bass and carp sold live as foodfish,

  • hybrid striped bass,

  • red drum,

  • salmon,

  • sturgeon,

  • tilapia,

  • trout,

  • ornamental/tropical fish, and

  • recreational sportfish.

CFAP Payments for Aquaculture
Aquaculture payments differ for eligible fish and crustaceans. CFAP payments will be calculated as outlined below.
 
Eligible Fish
CFAP payments for eligible aquaculture species, excluding crawfish, are the sum of:

  1. the aquaculture species sold from January 15, 2020, through April 15, 2020, multiplied by the CARES Act payment rate; and

  2. inventory of the aquaculture species that was not sold but was market size and available to be marketed between January 15, 2020, and April 15, 2020, multiplied by the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) payment rate.

Crawfish
CFAP payments for crawfish are the sum of:

  1. crawfish sales from January 15, 2020, through April 15, 2020, multiplied by the CARES Act payment rate; and

  2. crawfish inventory that was not sold as of April 15, 2020, due to lack of market and will not be sold in calendar year 2020, multiplied by the CCC payment rate.

Visit the aquaculture and CFAP webpage for payment rate information by clicking here.  For application instructions, click here.

Executive Order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth

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By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to strengthen the American economy; improve the competitiveness of American industry; ensure food security; provide environmentally safe and sustainable seafood; support American workers; ensure coordinated, predictable, and transparent Federal actions; and remove unnecessary regulatory burdens, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Purpose.  America needs a vibrant and competitive seafood industry to create and sustain American jobs, put safe and healthy food on American tables, and contribute to the American economy.  Despite America’s bountiful aquatic resources, by weight our Nation imports over 85 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States.  At the same time, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing undermines the sustainability of American and global seafood stocks, negatively affects general ecosystem health, and unfairly competes with the products of law-abiding fishermen and seafood industries around the world.  More effective permitting related to offshore aquaculture and additional streamlining of fishery regulations have the potential to revolutionize American seafood production, enhance rural prosperity, and improve the quality of American lives.  By removing outdated and unnecessarily burdensome regulations; strengthening efforts to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; improving the transparency and efficiency of environmental reviews; and renewing our focus on long-term strategic planning to facilitate aquaculture projects, we can protect our aquatic environments; revitalize our Nation’s seafood industry; get more Americans back to work; and put healthy, safe food on our families’ tables.

Sec. 2.  Policy.  It is the policy of the Federal Government to:

(a)  identify and remove unnecessary regulatory barriers restricting American fishermen and aquaculture producers;

(b)  combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing;

(c)  provide good stewardship of public funds and stakeholder time and resources, and avoid duplicative, wasteful, or inconclusive permitting processes;

(d)  facilitate aquaculture projects through regulatory transparency and long-term strategic planning;

(e)  safeguard our communities and maintain a healthy aquatic environment;

(f)  further fair and reciprocal trade in seafood products; and

(g)  continue to hold imported seafood to the same food-safety requirements as domestically produced products.

Sec. 3.  Definitions.  For purposes of this order:

     (a)  “Aquaculture” means the propagation, rearing, and harvesting of aquatic species in controlled or selected environments;

(b)  “Aquaculture facility” means any land, structure, or other appurtenance that is used for aquaculture;

(c)  “Aquaculture project” means a project to develop the physical assets designed to provide or support services to activities in the aquaculture sector, including projects for the development or construction of an aquaculture facility;

(d)  “Exclusive economic zone of the United States” means the zone established in Proclamation 5030 of March 10, 1983 (Exclusive Economic Zone of the United States of America);

(e)  “Lead agency” has the meaning given that term in the regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality, contained in title 40, Code of Federal Regulations, that implement the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.);

(f)  “Maritime domain” means all areas and things of, on, under, relating to, adjacent to, or bordering on a sea, ocean, or other navigable waterway, including all maritime-related activities, infrastructure, people, cargo, and vessels and other conveyances;

(g)  “Maritime domain awareness” means the effective understanding of anything associated with the global maritime domain that could affect the security, safety, economy, or environment of the United States; and

(h)  “Project sponsor” means an entity, including any private, public, or public-private entity, that seeks an authorization for an aquaculture project.

Sec. 4.  Removing Barriers to American Fishing.  (a)  The Secretary of Commerce shall request each Regional Fishery Management Council to submit, within 180 days of the date of this order, a prioritized list of recommended actions to reduce burdens on domestic fishing and to increase production within sustainable fisheries, including a proposal for initiating each recommended action within 1 year of the date of this order.

(i)    Recommended actions may include changes to regulations, orders, guidance documents, or other similar agency actions.

(ii)   Recommended actions shall be consistent with the requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.); the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.); the Marine Mammal Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.); and other applicable laws.

(iii)  Consistent with section 302(f) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1852(f)), and within existing appropriations, the Secretary of Commerce shall provide administrative and technical support to the Regional Fishery Management Councils to carry out this subsection.

(b)  The Secretary of Commerce shall review and, as appropriate and to the extent permitted by law, update the Department of Commerce’s contribution to the Unified Regulatory Agenda based on an evaluation of the lists received pursuant to subsection (a) of this section.

(c)  the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality a report evaluating the recommendations described in subsection (a) of this section and describing any actions taken to implement those recommendations.  This report shall be updated annually for the following 2 years.

     Sec. 5.  Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing.  (a)  Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Commerce, acting through the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shall issue, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, a notice of proposed rulemaking further implementing the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing, which entered into force on June 5, 2016 (the Port State Measures Agreement).

(b)  The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the heads of other appropriate executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall, to the extent permitted by law, encourage public-private partnerships and promote interagency, intergovernmental, and international cooperation in order to improve global maritime domain awareness, cooperation concerning at-sea transshipment activities, and the effectiveness of fisheries law enforcement.

(c)  The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall, consistent with applicable law and available appropriations, prioritize training and technical assistance in key geographic areas to promote sustainable fisheries management; to strengthen and enhance existing enforcement capabilities to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; and to promote implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement.

Sec. 6.  Removing Barriers to Aquaculture Permitting.  (a)  For aquaculture projects that require environmental review or authorization by two or more agencies in order to proceed with the permitting of an aquaculture facility, when the lead agency has determined that it will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) under NEPA, the agencies shall undertake to complete all environmental reviews and authorization decisions within 2 years, measured from the date of the publication of a notice of intent to prepare an EIS to the date of issuance of the Record of Decision (ROD), and shall use the “One Federal Decision” process enhancements described in section 5(b) of Executive Order 13807 of August 15, 2017 (Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects), and in subsections (a)(ii) and (iii) of this section.  For such projects:

(i)    NOAA is designated as the lead agency for aquaculture projects located outside of the waters of any State or Territory and within the exclusive economic zone of the United States and shall be responsible for navigating the project through the Federal environmental review and authorization process, including the identification of a primary point of contact at each cooperating and participating agency;

(ii)   Consistent with the “One Federal Decision” process enhancements, all cooperating and participating agencies shall cooperate with the lead agency and shall respond to requests for information from the lead agency in a timely manner;

(iii)  Consistent with the “One Federal Decision” process enhancements, the lead agency and all cooperating and participating agencies shall record all individual agency decisions in one ROD, unless the project sponsor requests that agencies issue separate NEPA documents, the NEPA obligations of a cooperating or participating agency have already been satisfied, or the lead agency determines that a single ROD would not best promote completion of the project’s environmental review and authorization process; and

(iv)   The lead agency, in consultation with the project sponsor and all cooperating and participating agencies, shall prepare a permitting timetable for the project that includes the completion dates for all federally required environmental reviews and authorizations and for issuance of a ROD, and shall make the permitting timetable publicly available on its website.

(b)  Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of the Army, acting through the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, other appropriate Federal officials, and appropriate State officials, shall:

(i)    develop and propose for public comment, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, a proposed United States Army Corps of Engineers nationwide permit authorizing finfish aquaculture activities in marine and coastal waters out to the limit of the territorial sea and in ocean waters beyond the territorial sea within the exclusive economic zone of the United States;

(ii)   assess whether to develop a United States Army Corps of Engineers nationwide permit authorizing finfish aquaculture activities in other waters of the United States;

(iii)  develop and propose for public comment, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, a proposed United States Army Corps of Engineers nationwide permit authorizing seaweed aquaculture activities in marine and coastal waters out to the limit of the territorial sea and in ocean waters beyond the territorial sea within the exclusive economic zone of the United States;

(iv)   assess whether to develop a United States Army Corps of Engineers nationwide permit authorizing seaweed aquaculture activities for other waters of the United States;

(v)    develop and propose for public comment, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, a proposed United States Army Corps of Engineers nationwide permit authorizing multi-species aquaculture activities in marine and coastal waters out to the limit of the territorial sea and in ocean waters beyond the territorial sea within the exclusive economic zone of the United States; and

Sec. 7.  Aquaculture Opportunity Areas.  (a)  The Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, other appropriate Federal officials, and appropriate Regional Fishery Management Councils, and in coordination with appropriate State and tribal governments, shall:

          (i)   within 1 year of the date of this order, identify at least two geographic areas containing locations suitable for commercial aquaculture and, within 2 years of identifying each area, complete a programmatic EIS for each area to assess the impact of siting aquaculture facilities there; and

(ii)  for each of the following 4 years, identify two additional geographic areas containing locations suitable for commercial aquaculture and, within 2 years of identifying each area, complete a programmatic EIS for each area to assess the impact of siting aquaculture facilities there.

(b)  A programmatic EIS completed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section may include the identification of suitable species for aquaculture in those particular locations, suitable gear for aquaculture in such locations, and suitable reporting requirements for owners and operators of aquaculture facilities in such locations.

(c)  In identifying specific geographic areas under subsection (a) of this section, the Secretary of Commerce shall solicit and consider public comment and seek to minimize unnecessary resource use conflicts as appropriate, including conflicts with military readiness activities or operations; navigation; shipping lanes; commercial and recreational fishing; oil, gas, renewable energy, or other marine mineral exploration and development; essential fish habitats, under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act; and species protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 or the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

     Sec. 8.  Improving Regulatory Transparency for Aquaculture.  (a)  Within 240 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with other appropriate Federal and State officials, shall prepare and place prominently on the appropriate NOAA webpage a single guidance document that:

(i)   describes the Federal regulatory requirements and relevant Federal and State agencies involved in aquaculture permitting and operations; and

(ii)  identifies Federal grant programs applicable to aquaculture siting, research, development, and operations.
(b)  The Secretary of Commerce, acting through the Administrator of NOAA, shall update this guidance as appropriate, but not less than once every 18 months.

Sec. 9.  Updating National Aquaculture Development Plan.  (a)  Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture, established pursuant to the National Aquaculture Act of 1980 (16 U.S.C. 2801 et seq.), shall assess whether to revise the National Aquaculture Development Plan, consistent with 16 U.S.C. 2803(a)(2) and (d), in order to strengthen our Nation’s domestic aquaculture production and improve the efficiency and predictability of aquaculture permitting, including permitting for aquaculture projects located outside of the waters of any State or Territory and within the exclusive economic zone of the United States.

(b)  In making any revisions to the National Aquaculture Development Plan as a result of this assessment, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the Secretary of Commerce shall, as appropriate:

(i)    include the elements described at 16 U.S.C. 2803(b) and (c) and the appropriate determinations described at 16 U.S.C. 2803(d);

(ii)   include programs to analyze, and formulate proposed resolutions of, the legal or regulatory constraints that may affect aquaculture, including any impediments to establishing security of tenure — that is, use rights with a specified duration tied to a particular location — for aquaculture operators, owners, and investors; and

(iii)  consider whether to include a permitting framework, including a delineation of agency responsibilities for permitting and associated agency operations, consistent with section 6 of this order and with the “One Federal Decision” Framework Memorandum issued on March 20, 2018, by the Office of Management and Budget and the Council on Environmental Quality, pursuant to Executive Order 13807.

(c)  The Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Subcommittee on Aquaculture, shall subsequently assess, not less than once every 3 years, whether to revise the National Aquaculture Development Plan, as appropriate and consistent with 16 U.S.C. 2803(d) and (e).  If the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the Secretary of Commerce decide not to revise the National Aquaculture Development Plan, they shall within 15 days of such decision submit to the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy a report explaining their reasoning.

Sec. 10.  Promoting Aquatic Animal Health.  (a)  Within 30 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Agriculture, in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Commerce, other appropriate Federal officials, and States, as appropriate, shall consider whether to terminate the 2008 National Aquatic Animal Health Plan and to replace it with a new National Aquatic Animal Health Plan.

(b)  Any new National Aquatic Animal Health Plan shall be completed, consistent with applicable law, within 180 days of the date of this order.

(c)  Any new National Aquatic Animal Health Plan shall include additional information about aquaculture, including aquaculture projects located outside of the waters of any State or Territory and within the exclusive economic zone of the United States, and shall incorporate risk-based management strategies as appropriate.

(d)  If adopted, the Plan described in subsections (b) and (c) of this section shall subsequently be updated, as appropriate, but not less than once every 2 years, by the Secretary of Agriculture, in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Commerce, other appropriate Federal officials, and States, as appropriate.

Sec. 11.  International Seafood Trade.  (a)  In furtherance of fair and reciprocal trade in seafood products, within 30 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Commerce shall establish an Interagency Seafood Trade Task Force (Seafood Trade Task Force) to be co-chaired by the Secretary of Commerce and the United States Trade Representative (Co-Chairs), or their designees.  The Secretary of Commerce shall, to the extent permitted by law and within existing appropriations, provide administrative support and funding for the Seafood Trade Task Force.

(b)  In addition to the Co-Chairs, the Seafood Trade Task Force shall include the following members, or their designees:

(i)     the Secretary of State;

(ii)    the Secretary of the Interior;

(iii)   the Secretary of Agriculture;

(iv)    the Secretary of Homeland Security;

(v)     the Director of the Office of Management and Budget;

(vi)    the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy;

(vii)   the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy;

(viii)  the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers;

(ix)    the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade;

(x)     the Commissioner of Food and Drugs;

(xi)    the Administrator of NOAA; and

(xii)   the heads of such other agencies and offices as the Co-Chairs may designate.

(c)  Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Seafood Trade Task Force shall provide recommendations to the Office of the United States Trade Representative in the preparation of a comprehensive interagency seafood trade strategy that identifies opportunities to improve access to foreign markets through trade policy and negotiations, resolves technical barriers to United States seafood exports, and otherwise supports fair market access for United States seafood products.

(d)  Within 90 days of the date on which the Seafood Trade Task Force provides the recommendations described in subsection (c) of this section, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, in consultation with the Trade Policy Staff Committee and the Seafood Trade Task Force, shall submit to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, the comprehensive interagency seafood trade strategy described in subsection (c) of this section.

Sec. 12.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

          (i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP

THE WHITE HOUSE,
May 7, 2020.

Commissioner Nikki Fried Letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce on Executive Order Promoting American Seafood and Aquaculture

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Tallahassee, Fla.— Yesterday, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in response to the Executive Order “Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth” the White House issued on May 07, 2020. The letter requests that the U.S. Department of Commerce strongly consider the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) as a vital partner in enacting the Executive Order’s critical goals to bolster the nation's seafood and aquaculture industry.

 

Florida's seafood industry, generating $3.2 billion annually and supporting more than 76,000 jobs, has incurred significant economic losses due to COVID-19, according to a UF/IFAS impact assessment. Commissioner Fried notes that FDACS actively supports the seafood industry and urges the U.S. Department of Commerce and Congress to take bold action to help advance offshore aquaculture to benefit American farmers recovering from the pandemic's effects.

 

The letter, which may be downloaded here, reads as follows:

 

June 10, 2020

 

The Honorable Wilbur Ross

Secretary

U.S. Department of Commerce

1401 Constitution Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20230

 

Dear Secretary Ross,

I write to you today as Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture on behalf of Florida’s robust and diverse seafood and aquaculture industries, and in response to the Executive Order (EO) “Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth” issued by the White House on May 7, 2020.

 

In line with the Executive Order’s objectives, Florida’s seafood industry, which generates $3.2 billion annually and supports more than 76,000 jobs, actively supports the bolstering of the national seafood sector by increasing competitiveness through critical international seafood trade reform and enhancing protection of the nation’s sustainably managed fisheries. As Florida’s lead aquaculture agency, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) strongly urges the U.S. Department of Commerce to consider Florida as a vital partner in enacting these critical goals.

 

As one of the fastest growing agribusinesses in the world, aquaculture is rapidly expanding in both diversity and scale to meet the growing demand for safe, affordable, and nutritious seafood commodities. While the U.S. has been a leader in technological innovations and production research, our country has experienced virtually none of the economic benefits due to cumbersome and uncertain federal policies, or the lack thereof.

 

It is evident through the issuance of this EO and the introduction of the bipartisan Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture Act (H.R.6191), that the federal government is willing to make the necessary policy changes and investments to increase domestic aquaculture production. As the U.S. Department of Commerce takes steps to enact Sections 6, 7, and 9 of this EO, I encourage you to consider the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as a potential partner in supporting permitting procedures, ready to seize the development opportunities forthcoming.

 

Florida is uniquely positioned to advance an environmentally sustainable offshore aquaculture industry in the Gulf of Mexico and the southern Atlantic Ocean. Our state has a proven and streamlined submerged-lands leasing process for marine aquaculture that has functioned for decades, and to date oversees 1,304 aquaculture lease parcels covering 3,918 acres of state waters. As acknowledged in the EO, security of tenure for a minimum of ten years — already well established in Florida law — is essential for aquaculture leaseholders to secure capital and investor confidence for business development.

 

Our Department has been actively engaged at the state level in developing the offshore aquaculture industry similarly aligned with the EO objectives for several years. In partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Center for Coastal Ocean Science (NOAA NCCOS), the Offshore Aquaculture Spatial Planning in Florida project has identified several large areas in the Gulf of Mexico ideal for the development of Aquaculture Opportunity Areas in state and federal waters off of Florida’s coast, critical for the development of this offshore industry.

 

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has a long and established history of working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to develop, update, and manage permits for marine aquaculture. Not only do we maintain a unique general permit for shellfish and live rock aquaculture in state waters, but we are also actively working to modify this permit to allow seaweed farms to be sited in state waters. However, our permit modification review and consultation process has now been underway for more than one year with no significant progress from NOAA nor USACE. This resource-intensive and time-consuming permitting process is difficult for state agencies with extensive expertise to navigate, much less individual businesses.

 

Our experiences underscore the desperate need for transparent and streamlined federal permitting mechanisms. I cannot overstate the need for a “One Federal Decision” process for aquaculture permitting and timely interagency review of both state and public permit requests.

 

I am formally requesting that the U.S. Department of Commerce consider Florida when designating Aquaculture Opportunity Areas within the next year. Our proactive work with NOAA NCCOS and distinctive regulatory framework would allow us to proceed with the Environmental Impact Statement process expeditiously. We also actively support the inclusion of state waters as the USACE works to develop nationwide permits for finfish and seaweed aquaculture, as stated in Section 6, subparts (b)(ii) and (iv) of the EO.

 

I urge the U.S. Department of Commerce and Congress to take bold action to enact common-sense policies that will advance sustainable offshore aquaculture and benefit American farmers, the jobs they support, and the families they feed. As Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, our Department and Division of Aquaculture stand ready to assist with these new efforts.

Sincerely,

 

Nicole “Nikki” Fried
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture

USDA Aquaculture Data Collection

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Recently, the USDA worked with the Department of Commerce to determine specific guidelines for aquaculture within the CARES Act. 

The FAA understands that determining this data may be an undertaking during the current circumstances but this is vital for federal funding moving forward and assist in recovering from COVID-19. 

If you have not already submitted the following information or similar comments to the USDA, we ask that you complete the following form and we, the FAA, will submit the information on behalf of aquaculture producers in the state of Florida. All submitted information will be kept confidential and only sent to the addressed parties as a collective submission. No individual farms, facilities, producers, etc. will be named or identified in any manner. 

Please complete the survey and submit no later than June 16th, 2020. You may complete the survey HERE

If you have any questions, please visit www.flaa.org/copy-of-home or feel free to contact us at 813-438-3522 or Tiffany@flaa.org

CFAP Aquaculture FAQs

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The following information was requested by the USDA.

USDA recently worked with the Department of Commerce to clarify what aquaculture companies could be covered under their respective CARES Act programs.  Please see the attached FAQ that provides some clarity for the USDA CFAP program, I have also attached the NOFA.    

What aquaculture species are eligible for coverage under CFAP?

USDA worked with the Department of Commerce to provide non-redundant coverage for the aquaculture industry from the CARES Act.  Commerce will cover Privately owned aquaculture businesses growing products in state or federal marine waters of the United States and the hatcheries that supply them under CARES Act Section 12005, This includes all molluscan shellfish and marine algae. Non-salmonid marine finfish grown in marine waters not covered by USDA are eligible for Sec. 12005 funding. 

USDA will consider information submitted by aquaculture producers in the NOFA for privately-owned aquaculture businesses that propagate eligible (see question below) freshwater and saltwater products in controlled environments (including raceways, ponds, tanks, and recirculating systems). Farmed shrimp and all salmonids (trout and salmon) are included.   

What are the eligibility requirements for covered aquaculture species?

USDA must determine that individual types of aquaculture products (meeting the criteria in the question above) which have incurred a requisite decline in price as outlined in the Notice of Funding Availability. Information to submit in that NOFA might include:

  1. For live aquaculture that you produced, had vested ownership in, and had in inventory at some point between January 15, 2020, and April 15, 2020, what was:

    1. The average price you received per product the week of January 13 through January 17, 2020, (or if not available, nearest date to this);

    2. The average price you received per aquaculture product you sold the week of April 6 through April 10, 2020, (or if not available, nearest date to this);

    3. The number of aquaculture products you sold between January 15, 2020, and April 15, 2020.

  2. The number and the contracted price of aquaculture products you produced that left your farm by April 15, 2020, and subsequently spoiled due to no market, and for which you did not have Federal crop insurance or obtained NAP to cover the loss.

  3. The inventory of aquaculture products as April 15, 2020, that will not be sold due to lack of markets.

Are all salmonids farmers eligible for coverage under CFAP, regardless of production system?

Upon submission to the NOFA, USDA will consider farmed salmonids grown for commercial market for eligibility under CFAP.  As stated in the NOFA "Farmed shrimp and salmonids (trout and salmon) will be included in CFAP to the extent USDA determines individual types of these products have incurred a requisite decline in price."  This includes salmonids grown in a controlled environment such as net pens in marine waters. 

 

Are producers of farmed crustaceans eligible for coverage under CFAP?

Upon submission to the NOFA, USDA will consider farmed crustaceans, including shrimp and crawfish, grown for commercial market for eligibility under CFAP.  As stated in the NOFA "Farmed shrimp and salmonids (trout and salmon) will be included in CFAP to the extent USDA determines individual types of these products have incurred a requisite decline in price."  This includes farmed crustaceans grown in a controlled environment.

 

Are producers of marine finfish grown in land-based systems eligible for coverage under CFAP?

Upon submission to the NOFA, USDA will consider marine finfish grown for commercial market in land-based systems for eligibility under CFAP as the NOFA states "privately-owned aquaculture business that propagate freshwater and saltwater products in controlled environments (including raceways, ponds, tanks, and recirculating systems)."   

 

Are producers of freshwater finfish eligible for coverage under CFAP?

Upon submission to the NOFA, USDA will consider freshwater finfish for eligibility under CFAP as the NOFA states "privately-owned aquaculture business that propagate freshwater and saltwater products in controlled environments (including raceways, ponds, tanks, and recirculating systems)."   

 

Are molluscan shellfish farmers eligible for coverage under CFAP?

No, molluscan shellfish are eligible for coverage under the Department of Commerce per CARES Act Section 12005.   

 

Are seaweed producers eligible for coverage under CFAP?

No, marine algae producers are eligible for coverage under the Department of Commerce per CARES Act Section 12005.   

 

Are aquaculture producers who harvest via fee-fishing on their farms eligible for coverage under CFAP?

Only those finfish producers who have ownership risk in the production of the finfish grown for a commercial market for food sales will be eligible for CFAP.   The finfish must be propagated in and harvested for sale from the controlled environment.  

NAA Update: SBA and Treasury Update COVID-19 Related Information

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The Department of Treasury has also updated their CARES Act website to include specific sections on:

 For more information and updates, visit Treasury.gov/CARES and SBA.gov/PayCheckProtection.
 

Assistance for Small Businesses
 

The Paycheck Protection Program established by the CARES Act, is implemented by the Small Business Administration with support from the Department of the Treasury. This program provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses. Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.

Survey Results: COVID-19 Impacts on the U.S. Aquaculture, Aquaponics, and Allied Businesses

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NAA Update: 

On March 23, 2020, Virginia Tech Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center and The Ohio State University Extension initiated an online survey of the U.S. aquaculture, aquaponics, and allied businesses. This survey was designed to capture and quantify the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the aquaculture, aquaponics, and allied industries. The survey will be distributed at the conclusion of every quarter for 2020, to attempt to capture the evolving impacts of COVID-19 over time. The Quarter 1 survey was open to respondents from March 23rd to April 10th.
 
Below is a short summary of key project results based on the survey responses. The survey closed with a total of 652 responses of which 537 were sufficiently complete to be usable. Based on the 2018 Census of Aquaculture, this represents approximately 18% of all U.S. aquaculture operations. 

  • 90% of respondents indicate that they have been impacted by COVID-19.

  • 80% of respondents have had sales orders or contracts from private companies canceled and 9% have had government (state/federal) sales contracts canceled for 2020.

  • Sales losses reported ranged from < $1,000 to $5 million.

  • 33% of respondents have had to lay off employees. 26% respondents reported that "they will have to soon". The number of employees laid off ranged from 1-3 (56% of respondents) to more than 20 employees, with one comment that a farm or business has had to lay off 66 employees.

  • 54% of respondents indicated that they had from 1-3 weeks to make a decision whether to lay off employees, with individual estimates of layoffs in excess of 290 employees for a single aquaculture farm.*

  • Without external intervention (such as governmental assistance), 13% of respondents said that they will not survive the next 3 months and 51% said that "maybe" they will survive the next 3 months. Only 20% said that they would survive 6 months without external assistance (47% said "maybe" they would survive 6 months, and 32% said that they would not survive 6 months without external assistance).

*please note that some of these responses are already 3 weeks old.
 
If there are any questions about the research, please contact Jonathan van Senten (jvansenten@vt.edu) or Matthew Smith (smith.11460@osu.edu).
 
For copies of a draft Virginia Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet and an accompanying Appendix summarizing the Quarter 1 survey results, please contact Jonathan van Senten (jvansenten@vt.edu), Matthew Smith (smith.11460@osu.edu) or the NAA Office at naa@thenaa.net.

Thank you to those farms and businesses that participated in the study and to all of those who helped distribute the survey link.

FDACS Ag and Seafood Avaiability Notice

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Per FDACS...

To limit losses caused by COVID-19 market disruptions, FDACS is providing information of those
holding agricultural commodities and those seeking agricultural commodities. By submitting this form
you agree to have this information posted on the FDACS website or sent to potential buyers or food
banks who may be interested in your commodity. Any interested parties are to contact you directly,
and it will be up to you and the interested parties to negotiate terms. FDACS is not a party to any
transaction and assumes no responsibility as to any aspect of a resulting transaction.

Gov. DeSantis Issues Safer At Home Order

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April 1st, 2020

Gov. DeSantis issues a state-wide 'safer-at-home' order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

Essential workers have been classified to include agriculture/ aquaculture workers. 

The Florida Executive Order 20-91 goes into effect on April 3rd at 12:01 AM and remains in effect until April 30th or until necessary. 

The Essential Worker Movement form can be downloaded HERE

SBA Office of Disaster Assistance Conference Call: March 26th

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The National Aquaculture Association (NAA) is hosting a conference call with the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Disaster Assistance.  The purpose of the call is to provide the “nuts and bolts” of applying for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, answer listener questions about the loan program, and provide information about other SBA economic disaster assistance programs.
 
The conference call will occur:
          Thursday, March 26th, starting at 2:00 pm eastern.
 
The call-in information is:
          Dial In # - 712-775-7031
          Access Code - 664-518-980
 
The agenda for the call will be:

            I.  Introductions
            II. Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
                        Overview
                        Intent and Scope
                        Eligibility
                        Application Process
             III. Other Economic Assistance Programs
             IV. Caller Questions

If you would like for the SBA representatives to address a particular topic or answer a specific question during their presentation, please send your requests to the NAA Office at naa@thenaa.net.

NAA Update: All 50 States included SBA COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

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The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration.
 
Since the last NAA Update on this topic (March 19th), the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is now available in the 50 states and American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands to provide small businesses, including small aquaculture businesses, with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. Eligibility is based upon identified counties in each state and there are now multiple declarations resulting in every county in some states being included.
 
These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
 
SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
 
SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response, and the SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible.

For up-to-date information including states or counties that are included or to apply for assistance, visit: https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19

FL Aquaculture & COVID-19

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FAA Members and Supporters,  
 
As you all know the COVID-19 outbreak has been labeled as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. While this is a very serious health concern for individuals not only in the state of Florida but throughout the country and world.  
 
For the aquaculture industry within the state of Florida, the Florida Aquaculture Association recommends that all producers, supporters, and individuals within the industry, document how they are being impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. From a production and revenue standpoint, some of you may experience disruptions that would not normally be occurring if this outbreak was not occuring.  
 
While there has not been official reports or statements made in regards to state or federal funding allocated to agricultural losses due to COVID-19, we would like to be prepared with accurate data and documentation if it ever becomes necessary.  
 
We are working with our commodity representatives, FDACS Division of Aquaculture, and other stakeholders to ensure all of those within the aquaculture industry are well informed and safe. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please reach out to Tiffany Conner via the contact information below.  
 
 
Sincerely,  
 
Tiffany Conner  

FAA Coordinator  

813-438-FLAA  

Tiffany@flaa.org 

NAA Hosting Double-Crested Cormorant FWS ANPR Conference Call

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The National Aquaculture Association (NAA) is hosting a conference call on Wednesday, February 26, 2020, 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm eastern, focused on assisting fish farmers to comment on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) entitled, “Migratory Bird Permits; Management of the Double-Crested Cormorants throughout the United States.”
 
The call-in numbers are:

 

Telephone number: 712-775-7031
Access code: 664-518-980

Prior to the call, the NAA recommends review of the following FWS documents:

 

Additional documents related to aquaculture and public resource agency management of double-crested cormorants are posted to a FWS website entitled “Expanding Management of Conflicts Associated with Double-Crested Cormorants.”
 
All fish farmers that experience double-crested cormorant eating your fish are encouraged to comment whether you participate in the conference call or not.  To comment on-line click here by midnight March 9, 2020.

Sea Grant Announces $5M in Grant Funding for US Aquaculture Economic or Market Research

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Subject to the availability of funding, Sea Grant anticipates approximately $5,000,000 will be available for research projects and programs that will significantly advance the understanding of the economics of aquaculture businesses in the U.S. and address gaps regarding important market information. The overall goal is to advance business management towards development of a sustainable marine and Great Lakes aquaculture industry in the United States.

Successful proposals will address geographic and/or topical needs and will fully integrate research, extension, and education. Proposals that will support broad, non-proprietary research to address critical gaps with respect to aquaculture economics and market needs; make that information available to U.S. aquaculture businesses and management agencies; and build the capacity of Sea Grant and its partners, including Sea Grant aquaculture extension personnel and industry stakeholders, are preferred. These investments are consistent with Sea Grant’s focus area of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture and the Sea Grant Network’s 10-year Aquaculture Vision, both which support NOAA and Department of Commerce aquaculture goals. 
 
All proposals to this competition must be submitted by a Sea Grant program. Other interested entities must submit proposals in partnership with and through a relevant Sea Grant Program.

Read the formal announcement for complete information here. An informational Webinar will be held on February 5, 2020 at 3 pm Eastern (Register or join here)
 
Notices of intent to submit due February 26, 2020. Full proposals due April 22, 2020

NAA Posts Updated and Expanded Rebuttal to Marine Aquaculture Criticisms

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The National Aquaculture Association (NAA) has posted an updated and expanded white paper entitled, Rebutting Marine Aquaculture Myths and Unfounded Criticisms, in anticipation of opposition to the federal permitting of an experimental, demonstration net pen to be located 45 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico funded by Florida Sea Grant.

Kampachi Farms is funded for one year to construct and operate a net pen demonstration project in the Gulf of Mexico as an educational platform for policymakers, the public and fishing interests. The submersible net pen will float at the surface off the coast of southwest Florida, with an objective of producing 88,000 pounds of marketable almaco jack.

Later today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding a public hearing at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota Florida to receive additional public comment on the proposed permitting. The NAA will be attending to express support for the project and its educational and demonstration objectives.

A public comment period on the draft permit and supporting analyses is open until February 4, 2020.  NAA members and other interested parties are encouraged to comment on the proposed action and can do so by emailing R4NPDES.Kampachi@epa.gov.  

Seafood in Focus: Phase One Trade Agreement between the US and China

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On January 15, 2020, the United States and China signed an historic and enforceable agreement on a Phase One trade deal that requires structural reforms and other changes to China’s economic and trade regime in the areas of intellectual property, technology transfer, agriculture, financial services, and currency and foreign exchange. The Phase One agreement also includes a commitment by China that it will make substantial additional purchases of U.S. goods and services in the coming years. Importantly, the agreement establishes a strong dispute resolution system that ensures prompt and effective implementation and enforcement.
 
As incomes rise in China, consumption of animal proteins such as seafood is becoming more popular among Chinese consumers. In addition, China is a major partner for U.S. seafood producers who ship raw seafood to China for further processing. However, in recent years, U.S. seafood exports to China have been hampered by restrictive Chinese regulatory initiatives. The Phase One agreement addresses these limitations and gives U.S. seafood companies increased access to the China market.
 
China has agreed to allow the import of 26 previously unapproved aquatic species through a side letter that accompanies the Agreement. China has also committed to streamline the timelines and procedures for registering U.S. seafood facilities and products, including fish meal and oil, by updating its facility registrations within 20 business days of receipt of a list from FDA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). China will ensure the continued use of existing bilaterally-agreed certificates issued by NOAA. In addition, competent authorities in the United States and China will reconvene their technical working group on seafood. The United States estimates these commitments could result in an additional $400 million in annual aquatic product exports to China above current levels.
 
For additional information, visit the Office of the US Trade Representative webpage devoted to Phase One here.

WOTUS: Navigable Waters Protection Rule Released

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Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) finalized the Navigable Waters Protection Rule to define “Waters of the United States” and thereby establish federal regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act. For the first time, the agencies are streamlining the definition so that it includes four simple categories of jurisdictional waters, provides clear exclusions for many water features that traditionally have not been regulated, and defines terms in the regulatory text that have never been defined before. Congress, in the Clean Water Act, explicitly directed the Agencies to protect “navigable waters.” The Navigable Waters Protection Rule regulates these waters and the core tributary systems that provide perennial or intermittent flow into them. Read the pre-publication version of the final Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

Under the final “Step 2” rule, four clear categories of waters are federally regulated:

  • The territorial seas and traditional navigable waters,

  • Perennial and intermittent tributaries to those waters,

  • Certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments, and

  • Wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters

The final rule also details 12 categories of exclusions, features that are not “waters of the United States,” such as features that only contain water in direct response to rainfall (e.g., ephemeral features); groundwater; many ditches; prior converted cropland; and waste treatment systems.

The final rule clarifies key elements related to the scope of federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction, including:

  • Providing clarity and consistency by removing the proposed separate categories for jurisdictional ditches and impoundments.

  • Refining the proposed definition of “typical year,” which provides important regional and temporal flexibility and ensures jurisdiction is being accurately determined in times that are not too wet and not too dry.

  • Defining “adjacent wetlands” as wetlands that are meaningfully connected to other jurisdictional waters, for example, by directly abutting or having regular surface water communication with jurisdictional waters.

The Navigable Waters Protection Rule is the second step in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of “waters of the United States” consistent with the February 2017 Presidential Executive Order entitled “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States.’” This final rule will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register and will replace the Step One Rule published in October, 2019.

This final action is informed by robust public outreach and engagement on the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, including pre-proposal engagement that generate more than 6,000 recommendations and approximately 620,000 comments received on the proposal. The final definition balances the input the final agencies received from a wide range of stakeholders.

The Navigable Waters Protection Rule Materials

Public Outreach Opportunities:
Public Webcast - A public webcast discussing the final Navigable Waters Protection Rule will be held on February 13, 2020 - EPA and the Army will hold a public webcast to help explain the key elements of the final Navigable Waters Protection Rule on Thursday, February 13, 2020. Registration is available here.

Aquaculture America 2020 Session Schedule

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Aquaculture America 2020 Session Schedule

NAA Action Alert: FWS Solicits Public Input on Cormorant Management

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As part of ongoing efforts to address conflicts between double-crested cormorants and wild and stocked fisheries, the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has released a Federal Register describing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) and soliciting public input on future management options. 
 
“Balancing the protection of native wildlife with economic and human health needs is fundamental to effective management practices,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “Today’s action starts the process of improving management and further reduces conflicts with double-crested cormorants throughout the United States.”
 
Future management actions built on a strong biological foundation ensure cormorant populations are managed responsibly and in compliance with federal laws and regulations, while balancing economic development, human health and safety, endangered species management and other priorities. 
 
“We are building long-term solutions for managing conflicts with double-crested cormorants under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act while maintaining healthy populations of this species,” said Aurelia Skipwith, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “This effort, in collaboration with our partners, will ensure continued good stewardship of our natural resources.”
 
In 2017, the FWS completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) evaluating options for issuing individual depredation permits to provide relief for aquaculture facilities experiencing direct economic losses from cormorants across 37 central and eastern states and the District of Columbia.
 
The EA analyzed options for the issuance of depredation permits for cormorants where there is either significant economic damage to aquaculture facilities, significant damage to native vegetation, significant impact on a threatened or endangered species, or significant human safety risks. Upon completion of the EA on November 15, 2017, the FWS began issuing permits to aquaculture facility managers and property owners across 37 central and eastern states and the District of Columbia. 
 
This review did not include potential damage to recreational and commercial fishing by cormorants. Since the publication of the EA, the FWS engaged stakeholders to assess the biological, social and economic significance of wild fish-cormorant interactions, and to identify a suite of management alternatives. 
 
The FWS is also currently working with tribes, state fish and wildlife agencies and other federal partners to assess comprehensive management options for cormorants across the United States.
 
“With nearly 30,000 water surface acres across Arkansas used for aquaculture production, our fish farmers contributed $71.1 million to our state’s economy in 2017. However, the United States Department of Agriculture estimates double-crested cormorants cause more than $25 million in damage annually within the aquaculture industry. These birds have become the foremost antagonists of fish farmers. We need commonsense solutions that allow aquaculture producers to safeguard their fish from these predators,” said U.S. Sen. John Boozman (AR). “I applaud the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for responding to the need of aquaculture producers by increasing the amount of maximum allowable take of double-crested cormorants, and I look forward to working with the Department of Interior and FWS to ensure we can find commonsense solutions to ease the burden for hard working Arkansan aquaculture producers.” 
 
“Arkansans are experiencing the harmful impact of double-crested cormorants across the state. As one of the top aquaculture producers in the nation, Arkansas and its fish farmers are suffering millions of dollars in losses as these avian predators consume critical inventory,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (AR). “I am glad the Department of Interior is taking this problem seriously and hope that further progress will come swiftly.”
 
“Bird predation costs producers millions of dollars every year.  I applaud the Department of the Interior for taking this important step to help aquacultures producers address those losses,” said U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS).
 
“The double-crested cormorant has been detrimental to Mississippi’s catfish farmers,” said U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (MS). “I am pleased that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is taking this issue seriously and is considering options to allow aquaculture producers to manage the populations of these predatory birds that are destroying fish populations.” 
 
“I am pleased to see the Department is moving forward in the rulemaking process for the depredation of double-crested cormorants. This is a desperately needed next step for Michigan’s First District, where over-population is threatening the health of our free swimming and recreational fisheries,” said U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (MI-01). “I am grateful the Administration has committed to this process to ensure a long-term and effective management plan for Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.”  
 
“I am pleased with the efforts and action by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to increase the allowable take of double-crested cormorants. This is a necessary step to mitigate more than $25 million in annual damages to the catfish and aquaculture industry,” said U.S. Rep. Michael Guest (MS-03). “I’m supportive of this proposed rule, which will have a positive impact on Mississippi’s catfish industry, and I will continue to work with FWS to promote Mississippi’s aquaculture needs.”
 
“Science has consistently proven that managing cormorants is necessary to protect not just aquaculture but fishing as well. I applaud the administration for listening to input, increasing the take and promoting sound scientific practices,” said U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-04).
 
“Double-crested cormorants can pose a significant threat to American aquaculture. The American Farm Bureau Federation is pleased to learn that the Department of the Interior is moving forward to help provide farmers the necessary management tools to prevent double-crested cormorants from preying on farm livestock,” said Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
 
“The strong return of double crested cormorants is a significant conservation success. But in the absence of natural predators, cormorants are inflicting substantial depredation on both private and public aquatic resources. This effort by the Fish and Wildlife Service is necessary and appropriate to maintain a healthy ecosystem," said Dale Hall, Former Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
 
Public scoping for the rulemaking process begins with the publication of the ANPR in the Federal Register today and will continue for 45 days until March 9, 2020. To promulgate a proposed rule and prepare a draft environmental review pursuant to NEPA, the FWS will take into consideration all comments and any additional information received on or before that date. You may submit written comments by one of the following methods. Please do not submit comments by both. FWS does not accept email or faxes.
 
Electronically:

  •  Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.

  •  Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2019-0103.

By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to Public

  •  Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–HQ–MB–2019–0103;

  •  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: JAO/1N, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803.

 
The FWS seeks comments or suggestions from the public, governmental agencies, tribes, the scientific community, industry or any other interested parties. Areas for consideration include but are not limited to: potential reporting and monitoring strategies of cormorants by states and participating tribes; impacts on floodplains, wetlands, wild and scenic rivers or ecologically sensitive areas; impacts to other species of wildlife, including endangered or threatened species; and impacts on prime agricultural lands. Please see the Federal Register notice for more details.
 
The FWS will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. The agency will hold public scoping meetings in the form of multiple webinars in January 2020. 
 
More information about the rulemaking process, cormorants and meetings, including how to register, will be posted online at https://www.fws.gov/birds/management/managed-species/double-crested-cormorants.php.

FDA Releases Multi-Lingual Photonovels Encouraging Fish and Shellfish Consumption

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released four new photonovels—or comic-style graphic stories—that share information about eating fish and shellfish while pregnant and why including seafood in children’s diet can help their growth and development. The photonovels are available in EnglishSpanish, and