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ISSUE DATE: June 28, 2022 REMINDER FB22-031
CONTACT: Andrew Richard, (727) 551-5709, [email protected]

Reminder: NOAA Fisheries Seeks Public Input on Gulf of Mexico Aquaculture Opportunity Area Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Development

Key Message:
NOAA Fisheries is inviting public comments on the scope of a programmatic environmental impact statement to identify one or more Aquaculture Opportunity Areas (AOA) in the Gulf of Mexico.
• The programmatic environmental impact statement seeks to assess the environmental impacts of siting aquaculture facilities in different potential AOA locations in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico.
• Identifying AOAs is an opportunity for NOAA to use best available science-based guidance on sustainable aquaculture management, and support environmental, economic, and social sustainability.
Why is This Happening?
On May 7, 2020, the White House issued an Executive Order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth (E.O. 13921), which requires the Secretary of Commerce to identify geographic areas containing locations suitable for commercial aquaculture and assess the impacts of siting aquaculture in those locations through a programmatic environmental impact statement. The proposed action is needed to meet the directives of E.O. 13921 to address the increasing demand for seafood; facilitate long-term planning for marine aquaculture development; and address interests and concerns regarding offshore marine aquaculture siting.
NOAA Fisheries selected the federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico as one of the first geographic regions in which to identify AOAs.

How You Can Get Involved:
Public input is a critical component of the process of identifying AOAs in the Gulf of Mexico. On June 1, 2022, NOAA Fisheries published in the Federal Register a Notice of Intent to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement and to conduct public scoping meetings (87 FR 33124, published June 1, 2022). That action initiated a 60-day public scoping period for the programmatic environmental impact statement that will close on August 1, 2022. During this time NOAA Fisheries seeks public comments to inform the scope and content of the programmatic environmental impact statement. Comments can be submitted electronically, by mail, or verbally at one of three upcoming virtual public scoping meetings.
• Tuesday, July 12, 2022, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. CDT/7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. EDT
For more information on how you can attend these virtual scoping meetings and how you can participate in the public scoping process, please visit the Get Involved: Public Comment section of the Gulf Aquaculture Opportunity Area PEIS webpage.

Where can I find more information on Aquaculture Opportunity Areas and the Gulf of Mexico Aquaculture Opportunity Area PEIS?
• NOAA Aquaculture Opportunity Areas
• Information on the Gulf of Mexico Aquaculture Opportunity Area PEIS
• Frequently Asked Questions about Aquaculture Opportunity Areas in the Gulf of Mexico

Sign Up for Text Message Alerts
NOAA’s Text Message Alert Program allows you to receive important fishery related alerts via text message (SMS). Standard message and data rates may apply. You may opt-out at any time. Text alerts you may receive include immediate fishery openings and closures and any significant changes to fishing regulations that happen quickly.
Sign up for one or more of the fisheries-related alerts below by texting the following to 888777:
• Gulf of Mexico Recreational: Text GULFRECFISH
• Gulf of Mexico Commercial: Text GULFCOMMFISH
• South Atlantic Recreational: Text SATLRECFISH
• South Atlantic Commercial: Text SATLCOMMFISH
• Caribbean: Text CARIBFISH

Other Contacts
Media: Kim Amendola (727) 551-5705, Allison Garrett (727) 551-5750

Join us every other Friday on NOAA Fisheries Instagram for Rec Fish Friday.

NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office (727) 824-5301

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