I’m pleased to share that the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Region has published a Public Scoping Summary that provides a broad overview of the written and verbal submissions received during the public scoping period for the Gulf of Mexico Aquaculture Opportunity Area (AOA) Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). The PEIS seeks to assess the impacts of identifying one or more AOA(s) in Federal Waters of the Gulf of Mexico and support the long-term planning for offshore aquaculture in the region.
NOAA Fisheries published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register on June 1, 2022 announcing its intent to develop the PEIS and asked for public comments on nine potential AOA locations in federal waters off the coasts of Florida, Louisiana and Texas, as well as for feedback on the scope and range of issues to be addressed in the PEIS. The Notice of Intent initiated a 60-day public scoping process, which concluded on August 1, 2022. Three virtual public scoping meetings were also held on the evenings of June 8, June 16 and July 12, 2022 at which comments could be provided verbally.
During public scoping NOAA Fisheries received a total of 216 verbal and written submissions from stakeholders and the public. The Public Scoping Summary offers a broad overview of the submissions received during the public scoping period and provides an overview of the content and themes within those submissions. The summary also includes a 400+ page appendix (Appendix A) with the verbatim written and verbal public comments submitted during the public scoping period.
NOAA Fisheries and its cooperating agencies are considering all public comments received, along with the best available science and any new information related to ocean uses in or around the nine potential locations for AOAs in the Gulf of Mexico, in order to make a determination about how many and which locations will be carried forward and fully analyzed as proposed alternatives in the draft programmatic environmental impact statement. NOAA Fisheries aims to release a draft programmatic environmental impact statement for public review and comment in winter 2024.
For more information on NOAA Fisheries’ efforts to identify AOAs in the Gulf of Mexico, please visit the NOAA Fisheries Gulf of Mexico AOA PEIS website. For any questions, please contact Andrew Richard at Andrew.Richard@noaa.gov.