The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service have released their strategic plan for national aquaculture research and development (Strategic Plan). The Strategic Plan has potentially significant implications for aquaculture companies, feed suppliers, and other stakeholders interested in seafood and related nutrition policy matters.

The Strategic Plan was prepared by the Interagency Working Group on Aquaculture, acting under authority granted by the National Aquaculture Act as part of the Life Sciences Subcommittee of the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council. The Strategic Plan consists of nine goals:

  1. Advancing integration of aquaculture development and environmental conservation,
  2. employing genetics to increase productivity and protect natural populations,
  3. improving aquatic animal health,
  4. improving production efficiency and well-being,
  5. improving nutrition and develop novel feeds,
  6. increasing supply of nutritious, safe, high-quality seafood,
  7. introducing innovative production systems,
  8. creating skilled workforce and effective technology transfer, and
  9. integrating economic and social sciences

Notwithstanding any research initiatives proposed by the Strategic Plan, the FDA retains authority over animal feed, including aquaculture feed. The Strategic Plan is written with the assumption that replacing fish meal in prepared feeds for cultured aquatic animals is an necessity and calls FDA approval of new aquatic animal feed ingredients a “critical step” in novel ingredient development. The evidence developed in response to the Strategic Plan is likely to have significant longer-term implications for FDA regulatory policy development concerning aquaculture feeds and feed ingredients.

Organizations may submit comments on the Strategic Plan by August 27, 2012.