NOAA Makes New Progress in Gulf of Mexico Aquaculture Opportunity Zone

NOAA Fisheries has posted a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register announcing the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement for the Aquaculture Opportunity Area (AOA) in the Gulf of Mexico. This aims to identify and assess the impacts of multiple AOAs in federal Gulf waters.

NOAA Fisheries is leading this effort in partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the US Air Force, which will be cooperating agencies on the programmatic environmental impact statement. Other agencies may choose to join as cooperating or participating agencies as the process progresses.

The Notice of Intent initiates a formal 60-day public scoping period for the programmatic environmental impact statement that will end on August 1, 2022. During this time, NOAA is seeking public comment to inform the scope and content of the programmatic environmental impact study. Public comments can be submitted in writing as well as at three virtual public meetings to 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.

Comments received during scoping will play a key role in helping NOAA determine the scope of the impact statement. NOAA Fisheries and its federal partners will use the best available science and public input – including industry, states, local communities, tribal governments, commercial and recreational fishing organizations, the Fisheries Management Board of Gulf of Mexico, 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 assess in the programmatic environmental impact statement .

“We greatly appreciate hearing from you during our public comment period, as well as your help in letting your constituents know about this important opportunity,” NOAA said in a press release.

See Fisheries Bulletin for more information.

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