Ecosystem Services in Working Lands: US Northeast

4.4 FISHERIES, AQUACULTURE, AND SHELLFISH OPERATIONS

The fisheries, aquaculture, and shellfish operations category includes programs that support producers, businesses, and land-owners engaged in or associated with some aspect of marine or aquatic food production. It’s n ot surprising that a majority of these programs are focused on the ecosystem service of food production; however, some programs are also engaged with ecosystem services as diverse as wildlife habitat protection (n=13) and off-shore wind energy production. Many of these programs are limited to the states in the U.S. Northeast with significant stretches of coastline. Overall, of the four working lands covered in this assessment, the fisheries, aquaculture, and shellfish operations category is by far the least number of programs (n=83). Nevertheless, with working waterfronts representing part of the economic engine driving coastal redevelopment (USGCRP, 2017), aquatic ecosystem services are essential to various redevelopment efforts.

4.4.1 Programs for Producers/Businesses

4.4.1.1 Food production and operations

As mentioned, a majority of the programs in the fisheries, aquaculture, and shellfish category, especially those targeting producers and businesses, are also involved in the ecosystem service of food production (Figure 11). Programs in this area generally consisted of partnership programs offering in-kind resources, technical assistance and education programs, and programs incentivizing opportunities for land leases. In-kind resources. One such program is the Maryland Seafood Oyster Aquaculture List program. This program collates a list of oyster aquaculture facilities that operate in the state of Maryland annually. The information is then published to better connect foodservice with the Maryland seafood industry, whether or not the companies listed sell directly to Maryland food services. Technical assistance and education. Examples in this category include both federal-level resources, and regional- and state-level resources through organizations like the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office of NOAA. At the federal level, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers the Seafood Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) program, which provides guidance and certification for the aquaculture industry to ensure food safety on the part of producers. State-level resources include programs such as the Rhode Island Shellfish Harvester Education program, an effort of the Rhode Island Department of Health with support from the National Shellfish Sanitation program. This program provides training and certification to shellfish harvesters in the state with the goal of improving the delivery of safe products to consumers in Rhode Island.

In addition to these partnership and technical assistance programs, there are also a number of programs that support land lease efforts in areas surrounding the aquaculture industry.

• The Connecticut Department of Agriculture, for example, offers the Shellfish Ground Leasing Procedure and Lease Opportunities program. This program permits shellfish farmers to obtain underwater lands in Long Island Sound for planting, cultivating, and harvesting shellfish crops. The Long Island Sound area includes some 70,000 acres that is currently farmed — about12,000 acres of this area is leased by the local shellfish commission. They offer additional leases to shellfish operations based on a competitive bid process. • The Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife also leases acreage to shellfish producers in the Inland Bay area. These leases are available for lands within defined Shellfish Aquaculture Development Areas (SADA), which offer expedited state- and federal-permitting processes, as well as for lands outside of those areas.

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