Proposed Aquaculture Rule Addresses Potential Conflicts with Oil and Gas

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has announced that it is seeking comments by Monday, October 27 on a proposed rule establishing a comprehensive regulatory program to implement the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s plan for regulating offshore aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico.

NMFS notes that the agency’s Southeast Regional Administrator (RA) may deny a permit for reasons including scenarios where permit issuance would result in conflicts with established or potential oil and gas infrastructure, access to Outer Continental Shelf energy or marine mineral resources, and safe transit to and from infrastructure and future geological and geophysical surveys.

The announcement also states that the Southeast RA will consult with the Bureaus of Ocean Energy Management and Safety & Environmental Enforcement (and other agencies as appropriate) in order to address and resolve any conflicts in use of the OCS, with a special emphasis on OCS energy programs for resolving and documenting proposed solutions for existing conflicts.