BARNSTABLE – The Northeast is taking an increased interest in the development of aquaculture as the worldwide demand for seafood continues to grow and wild stocks are being heavily fished.
NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement has detailed Assistant Special Agent in charge Jeff Ray to NOAA’s Aquaculture Program in the Greater Atlantic Region Fisheries office to learn, teach and help foster an understanding of each entity’s responsibilities.
The Greater Atlantic Region Fisheries office is rapidly moving forward with implementing plans for offshore farming.
Ray says NOAA Fisheries is interested in what can be done to get local fishermen back in an economically feasible enterprise and wants to ensure a level playing field between those in aquaculture and those in wild caught fisheries.
If aquaculture is successful and offshore farming does grow, the industry could see major changes. Potential changes include less offloading facilities and more aquaculture processing stations as well as the potential for greater risk for marine wildlife.
Ray says one of the first concepts in development is long line mussel farming and that a focused concern is understanding if the gear could cause potential entanglement issues similar to fishing nets.
Other concerns include building offshore farms without disturbing of affecting the current marine life balance.