The American Soybean Association (ASA) and the Soy Aquaculture Alliance (SAA) have welcomed the White House’s National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan.

The soybean industry is the largest provider of protein for the aquaculture industry, and has been advocating the development of a domestic marine aquaculture industry for several years.

“Through this plan, there is a commitment to education, regulatory streamlining, and better monitoring and data,” said ASA president Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss. “It reflects a serious and thoughtful plan not only to tackle big problems, but also to take advantage of opportunities to work collaboratively with industry to build a domestic aquaculture industry.”

ASA and SAA pointed to the plan’s acknowledgment that federal inefficiencies in the permitting and approvals process for domestic aquaculture operations has been a significant hindrance in the industry’s growth.

“The plan notes that more than 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported, and we face a trade shortfall within the seafood industry of more than $11 billion, a number that grows annually,” added Steve Hart, SAA Executive Director. “The steps in the plan will go a long way toward establishing and nurturing a robust domestic aquaculture industry to help the American seafood industry take advantage of an area for huge potential growth.”

While global production of fish from aquaculture grew more than 60 percent between 2000 and 2008, production in the United States remains stagnant.

Hart has been invited to discuss the intricacies of the industry in an address to the National Science and Technology Council’s Interagency Working Group on Aquaculture, a key partner in the plan’s component to address and involve industry.

The National Ocean Policy created a National Ocean Council through which agencies can work together cooperatively to share information and streamline decision-making. The council developed the implementation plan over the past two years with extensive input from public and private sector stakeholders at all levels, including ASA and SAA, to focus on improving coordination to speed federal permitting decisions; better manage resources; develop and disseminate sound scientific information; and collaborate more effectively with public and private-sector stakeholders.

“A very positive aspect of the plan,” added Murphy, “is that it ensures federal agencies collaborate efficiently in the interest of protecting the environment while at the same time reducing redundancies and red tape, all without creating additional regulations.”