FL - Commissioner Fried Welcomes NOAA Announcement of Aquaculture Opportunity Areas Off Florida's Gulf Coast
Tallahassee, Fla.— Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the selection of sites in federal waters off Florida in the Gulf of Mexico as one of the first locations designated as Aquaculture Opportunity Areas.
The announcement comes after Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried sent a letter to the U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, asking that the department consider designating waters off Florida’s coast as an Aquaculture Opportunity Area.
Echoing Commissioner Fried’s call were U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, the National Aquaculture Association, the Florida Aquaculture Association, the Florida Farm Bureau Federation, Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, Gulfstream Aquaculture, Ocean Era, Dr. Daniel Benetti of the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and Dr. Steve Murawski of the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science.
“Florida’s Gulf Coast waters are ideal to receive an Aquaculture Opportunity Area, and we welcome today’s announcement towards that end. Our proven aquaculture and seafood history makes our state perfectly positioned to advance an environmentally sustainable offshore aquaculture industry,” said Commissioner Fried. “As Florida’s lead aquaculture agency, we look to balance economic development with environmental conservation, which has helped our aquaculture industry more than double in 30 years. We look forward to continue working with NOAA and stand ready to help our nation strengthen our domestic seafood supply.”
About Aquaculture Opportunity Areas: Aquaculture Opportunity Areas were called for in the May 2020 Executive Order “Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth” issued by The White House. They are defined as geographic areas that have been evaluated for their potential for sustainable commercial aquaculture. Aquaculture Opportunity Area selection is based on spatial data and current industry interest in developing sustainable aquaculture operations in the region. Exact locations of aquaculture farm sites are yet to be determined, but will be selected based on public input, in-depth spatial and environmental factor analysis, and in coordination with states and regional fishery commission.