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Marine Salmon Investigations

NOAA Aquaculture Program Coordination Meeting

The NOAA Aquaculture Program staff met 28 February 2010 with Regional Aquaculture Coordinators from the NMFS Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest Regional Offices and with NMFS Science Center aquaculture points of contact for the Southwest, Southeast, and Alaska Fisheries Science Centers. Also participating in the meeting were representatives from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center Milford Laboratory, Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) Montlake and Manchester Laboratories, the National Ocean Service Beaufort Laboratory, and the NOAA Sea Grant Aquaculture Program. The meeting was held at the temporary Southwest Fisheries Science Center’s (SWFSC) Torrey Pines Facility in La Jolla, California.

Michael Rubino, NOAA Aquaculture Coordinator, led off the meeting with an overview of administration and ongoing activities within the National Program. He reviewed the small increases in program funding with a cautious outlook for moderate future increases. Dave O’Brien from program staff discussed budgets in more detail including moderate increases for research funding that is now available for aquaculture centers at the Northeast and Northwest Fisheries Science Centers with lesser amounts for some projects at other Science Centers and Laboratories. Susan Bunsick also from NOAA discussed current steps underway to help the agency develop a new national policy for sustainable marine aquaculture. Under guidance from NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, key steps in this process involve a series of six listening sessions NOAA will be holding around the country in April and May to solicit recommendations from industry and the public. One of these listening sessions will be held at the Seattle Aquarium on 22 April. A draft of the new policy will be available later this year for public comment.

Regional Coordinators and participants from Sea Grant, NMFS Science Centers, and various laboratories also gave reports on aquaculture programs including current research activities in their particular areas. Bill Heard gave an overview of AFSC aquaculture activities including a review of the king crab stock enhancement research at the Kodiak and Newport Laboratories and the Chinook salmon stock enhancement research at the Little Port Walter Marine Station. The king crab research involves the University of Alaska and is associated with the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery in Seward. Heard briefly reviewed Alaska’s moderate shellfish industry and the large-scale salmon stock enhancement program operated by the five Regional Aquaculture Associations throughout the state.

Usha Varanasi, Director of the NWFSC and acting Director of SWFSC, spoke to the group about the importance of developing sustainable and economically viable aquaculture, including stock enhancement, in helping the United States meet current and future needs for safe abundant seafood.

The Aquaculture Coordinator’s meeting was held in conjunction with the World Aquaculture Society’s Aquaculture 2010 Meeting in San Diego, California, 1-5 March. NOAA Aquaculture Program staff and researchers across the agency gave over 25 presentations on a wide range of issues including ocean acidification and shellfish, alternatives to fish meal in aquaculture feeds, advances in stock replenishment/ enhancement, fish health, aquaculture extension, market efficiency, and policy. NOAA officials also participated in a Town Hall meeting with other federal agencies and aquaculture industry.

By Bill Heard


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