On June 1, 2022, NOAA Fisheries published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register announcing the preparation of the Gulf of Mexico Aquaculture Opportunity Area Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. This programmatic environmental impact statement seeks to assess the impacts of identifying one or more Aquaculture Opportunity Areas in Federal Waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
NOAA Fisheries is leading this effort in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and U.S. Air Force, which will be cooperating agencies on the programmatic environmental impact statement. Other agencies may opt to join as cooperating or participating agencies as the process moves forward.
The Notice of Intent initiates a formal 60-day public scoping period for the programmatic environmental impact statement that will close on August 1, 2022. During this time NOAA Fisheries will be seeking public comments to inform the scope and content of the programmatic environmental impact statement. Public comments can be submitted in writing as well as during three virtual public meetings that will be held on June 8, 2022, June 16, 2022 and July 12, 2022. Information and instructions on how to submit comments can be found on the NOAA Fisheries Gulf of Mexico AOA PEIS website.
The comments received during scoping will play a key role in helping NOAA Fisheries and our cooperating agencies determine the scope of the programmatic environmental impact statement. NOAA Fisheries and its federal partners will use the best available science and feedback from the public – including industry, states, local communities, tribal governments, commercial and recreational fishing organizations, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, the environmental NGO community, and other key stakeholders – to determine the number and location of alternative AOAs and the range of aquaculture types and systems we evaluate in the programmatic environmental impact statement.
We would greatly appreciate hearing from you during our public comment period, as well as your assistance in spreading the word to your constituencies about this important opportunity to provide comment and help shape what AOAs and offshore aquaculture development could look like in the Gulf of Mexico.
Please see the link for the Fishery Bulletin for more information.
For any questions about the Notice of Intent, please contact Andrew Richard at Andrew.Richard@noaa.gov
Other helpful links:
Thank you very much for your time.
Regional Aquaculture Coordinator, Southeast Regional Office
NOAA Fisheries | U.S. Department of Commerce