Danielle Blacklock: "We have an opportunity to consider our unique role in supporting farmers, while also adding new farmers to our community."

Listening sessions 'have helped shape US aquaculture vision'


The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has completed a five-month programme of nine public listening sessions that it says will help it implement its Aquaculture Strategic Plan.

The first session was held at the Northeast Aquaculture Conference & Exposition (NACE) in Providence, Rhode Island, on January 12, and the final session was held earlier this month in Hawaii. Some sessions were in-person events, some virtual, and some offered both options.

“Over the last five months, I have travelled across the country and spent hours in virtual spaces, meeting with many of you [as part of the series]," said Danielle Blacklock, director of the NOAA Office of Aquaculture in a newsletter.

“As part of this conversation about our future, we worked closely with regional leaders. Together, we created space for aquaculture growers, seafood industry workers, researchers, coastal community members, and the general public to share their views on the future of aquaculture at NOAA Fisheries. This includes what aspects of NOAA’s science and services are of most value to the public.”

Lack of services

Blacklock said she sees tenacity in every aquaculture grower she meets.

“I lean on that tenacity during times like these, as aquaculture lacks the services needed to guarantee success in our changing marketplaces, waterfronts, and global climate.”

The NOAA aquaculture director said now was a pivotal moment for the NOAA Fisheries Aquaculture Program.

“We have an opportunity to consider our unique role in supporting farmers, while also adding new farmers to our community. Each region is unique in geography, species, and culture, but all of the growers are united in their passion for aquaculture and delivering safe, sustainable seafood to American plates.

“At NOAA we are working to develop science and services that serve you: the aquaculture industry, academics, consumers, and the American public as a whole.

“Thank you to all who attended our listening sessions to help shape that vision.”

Five-year plan

In October 2022, NOAA published its first-ever 5-Year Strategic Plan for Aquaculture to guide the agency’s work from 2023-2028. The plan is designed to support collaboration and align goals and objectives across the NOAA Aquaculture Program and with its partners.

It has four key goals:

  • Manage sustainably and efficiently, by improving the regulatory processes for sustainable coastal and marine aquaculture through collaboration with partners.
  • Lead science for sustainability by using world-class science expertise to meet management and industry needs for a thriving seafood production sector and share this knowledge broadly.
  • Educate and exchange information, by building awareness and support for coastal, marine, and Great Lakes aquaculture through two-way communication with diverse stakeholders and partners.
  • Support economic growth and viability by facilitating a robust aquaculture industry that thrives as a key component of a resilient seafood sector.