Aquaculture Opportunity Areas, 67519-67522 [2020-23487]

Download as PDF 67519 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 206 / Friday, October 23, 2020 / Notices TABLE 1—SUMMARY OF DEEP-SET BUOY GEAR EXEMPTED FISHING PERMIT APPLICATIONS SUBMITTED FOR THE SEPTEMBER 2020 COUNCIL MEETING (https://www.pcouncil.org/documents/2020/08/e-2-attachment-1-summary-of-dsbg-efp-applications-received-for-the-september-2020-councilmeeting.pdf/) E.2 attachment No. Applicant name Number of vessels 2 ..................... 3 ..................... 4 ..................... 5 ..................... 6 ..................... 7 ..................... 8 ..................... 9 ..................... 10 ................... 11 ................... 12 ................... 13 ................... 14 ................... 15 ................... 16 ................... 17 ................... 18 ................... 19 ................... 20 ................... 21 ................... Athens, Tim ...................................................................... Dell, Kevin ........................................................................ Dillman, Todd ................................................................... Eberhardt, James ............................................................. Fischer, Paul .................................................................... Ghio, Romolo ................................................................... Haworth, Nick, Haworth, David ........................................ Herman, Marc .................................................................. Lebeck, Mark .................................................................... Lorton, Arthur, Lorton, J. Anthon ..................................... Medland, Robert, Castenada, James, Clayton, Terry ..... Pack, Troy, Fegerstedt, Ashley ........................................ Perez, Nathan, Carson, Thomas ..................................... Perez, Nathan, Carson, Thomas ..................................... Saraspe, Andres, Saraspe, Charles ................................ Sidielnikov, Andrii ............................................................. Tharp, Nicolas .................................................................. Volaski, Andrew ............................................................... Wallace, Miles .................................................................. Weiser, Steve ................................................................... Fishing method 1 1 1 1 1 1 3 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 DSLBG DSBG DSBG DSBG DSBG DSLBG NSBG DSLBG DSLBG, NSBG DSLBG DSBG DSBG NSBG DSBG DSBG DSBG DSBG DSLBG DSBG, NSBG DSBG Notes Not recommended. NSBG portion not recommended. Same vessel as #15. Same vessel as #14. NSBG portion not recommended. Fishing Method DSBG—standard deep-set buoy gear, DSLBG—linked deep-set buoy gear, NSBG—night set buoy gear. DSLBG vessels can also use standard deep-set buoy gear. NMFS will consider all public comments submitted in response to this Federal Register notice prior to issuance of any EFP. Additionally, NMFS has analyzed the effects of issuing DSBG and DSLBG EFPs, and would analyze issuing additional NSBG EFPs in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and NOAA’s Administrative Order 216–6, as well as for compliance with other applicable laws, including Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), which requires the agency to consider whether the proposed action is likely to jeopardize the continued existence and recovery of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: October 16, 2020. Jennifer M. Wallace, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2020–23537 Filed 10–22–20; 8:45 am] khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:09 Oct 22, 2020 Jkt 253001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [RTID 0648–XA406] Aquaculture Opportunity Areas National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; request for information. AGENCY: On May 7, 2020, the White House issued an Executive Order (E.O.) on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth, which requires the Secretary of Commerce to identify geographic areas containing locations suitable for commercial aquaculture, and complete a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for each area to assess the impact of siting aquaculture facilities there. NOAA requests that interested parties provide relevant information on the identification of areas within Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and off Southern California, south of Point Conception, for the first two Aquaculture Opportunity Areas (AOA) and on what areas NOAA should consider nationally for future AOAs. Please respond to the questions listed in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section, as appropriate. The public input provided in response to this request for SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 information (RFI) will inform NOAA as it works with Federal agencies, appropriate Regional Fishery Management Councils, and in coordination with appropriate State and tribal governments to identify AOAs. DATES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments on or before December 22, 2020. Four webinar-based listening sessions are scheduled. Each will focus on a specific region or national comments, but comments on each topic will be accepted at all meetings: 1. November 5, 2020, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern: National listening session. 2. November 12, 2020, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Pacific: Southern California listening session. 3. November 17, 2020, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern: Gulf of Mexico listening session. 4. November 19, 2020, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern: National listening session. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA–NMFS–2020–0118, by the following method: Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/ #!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-20200118, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. Webinar links: Links and toll-free phone numbers for each webinar can be found at: https:// E:\FR\FM\23OCN1.SGM 23OCN1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES 67520 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 206 / Friday, October 23, 2020 / Notices www.fisheries.noaa.gov/aquacultureopportunity-areas. Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter ‘‘N/A’’ in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Please note that the U.S. Government will not pay for response preparation, or for the use of any information contained in the response. If you are unable to provide electronic comments, please contact: Kristy Beard, 301–427–8333 or nmfs.aquaculture.info@noaa.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kristy Beard, 301–427–8333 or nmfs.aquaculture.info@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On May 7, 2020, the President signed a new E.O. on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth (E.O. 13921). The E.O. calls for the expansion of sustainable U.S. seafood production. NOAA also has directives to promote sustainable aquaculture in the U.S. through the National Aquaculture Act of 1980 and the NOAA Marine Aquaculture Policy. NOAA has a variety of proven science-based tools and strategies that can support these directives and help communities thoughtfully consider how and where to sustainably develop offshore aquaculture that will complement wildcapture fisheries, working waterfronts, and our nation’s seafood processing and distribution infrastructure. Section 7 of the E.O. directs the Secretary of Commerce to identify AOAs in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, other appropriate Federal officials, and appropriate Regional Fishery Management Councils, and in coordination with appropriate State and tribal governments. This includes: 1. Within 1 year of the E.O., identify at least two geographic areas containing locations suitable for commercial aquaculture; 2. Within 2 years of identifying each area, complete a NEPA PEIS for each VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:09 Oct 22, 2020 Jkt 253001 area to assess the impact of siting aquaculture facilities there; 3. For each of the following 4 years, identify two additional geographic areas containing locations suitable for commercial aquaculture and complete a PEIS for each within 2 years. These geographic areas will be referred to as AOAs once the PEIS is complete. Identifying AOAs is an opportunity to use the best available science on sustainable aquaculture management, and support the ‘‘triple bottom line’’ of environmental, economic, and social sustainability. This approach has been refined and utilized widely within states and by other countries with robust, sustainable aquaculture sectors. The 3-year process to identify and complete a PEIS for each AOA will result in the identification of a geographic area that, through scientific analysis and public engagement, is determined to be environmentally, socially, and economically suitable for aquaculture. The areas identified as AOAs will have characteristics that are expected to be able to support multiple aquaculture farm sites of varying types, but all portions of the AOA may not be appropriate for aquaculture or for all types of aquaculture. Through spatial modeling, NOAA expects to identify areas that may support approximately three to five aquaculture operations in each of the first two AOAs. The most suitable locations for aquaculture operations within an AOA would be considered through the PEIS, and locations for individual operations would be considered during the required permitting process and associated environmental consultations. To identify the first two geographic areas containing locations suitable for commercial aquaculture within one year of the Executive Order, NOAA will focus on Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Southern California, south of Point Conception, because there is existing spatial analysis data and current industry interest in developing sustainable aquaculture operations in these regions. NOAA will further narrow those areas using a combination of spatial mapping approaches, scientific review, and public input. NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science will use the best available data to account for key environmental, economic, social, and cultural considerations to identify areas that may support sustainable aquaculture development. NOAA will then combine those results with input from other Federal agencies, Fishery Management Councils, Marine Fisheries Commissions, states and tribes, and the general public to identify the first two PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 geographic areas that will be considered in more depth through the PEIS. Public input on identification of geographic areas will be gathered through this RFI; additional opportunities for input will be provided during the PEIS process for each area. NOAA may use the information received through this RFI in the NEPA PEIS process. The information could inform the development of potential NEPA alternatives, such as different locations, different aquaculture types in each location (e.g., finfish in one location, shellfish in another location), and different configurations of farm locations and aquaculture types. NOAA expects to publish a notice of intent (NOI) to prepare a PEIS for each of the first two AOAs in the Gulf of Mexico and Southern California after identifying at least two geographic areas containing locations suitable for commercial aquaculture. Public notices announcing the NOI and announcing the availability of a draft PEIS will provide future opportunities for public comment on the first two AOAs. NOAA is also requesting public input on what areas should be considered nationally for future AOAs. NOAA will use the information received from this RFI to help determine where to focus efforts for future AOAs. NOAA expects to continue providing opportunities for public comment until all 10 AOAs have been identified over the next 5 years. Aquaculture operations proposed within an AOA would have the same Federal and state permitting and authorization requirements as anywhere else and would be required to comply with all applicable Federal and state laws and regulations. Site-specific environmental surveys may be required for the permitting process. Additional NEPA analysis beyond the PEIS for the AOA(s) may be necessary as a part of permitting and authorization processes for individual operations. NOAA will work with the Federal agencies responsible for permitting offshore aquaculture (e.g., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency) throughout the AOA identification process to identify information NOAA can include in the PEIS to help inform future permitting needs. Additional information on AOAs, including frequently asked questions, is available on NOAA’s website at: https:// www.fisheries.noaa.gov/insight/ aquaculture-opportunity-areas. E:\FR\FM\23OCN1.SGM 23OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 206 / Friday, October 23, 2020 / Notices Questions To Inform the Identification of the First Two AOAs, in the Gulf of Mexico and Southern California, and Locations for Future AOAs, Nationally Through this RFI, NOAA (we) seeks written public input on the identification of the first two AOAs. NOAA announced in August 2020 that the first two AOAs would be in Federal waters (i.e., U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone) of the Gulf of Mexico and Southern California; the comments received through this RFI will help us identify specific locations within those regions which we will consider in more depth through the PEIS process. There will be additional opportunities for public comment during the PEIS process. We also seek public input on what regions of the country should be considered as we go through the process to identify two more geographic areas per year, for a total of 10 by 2025. When providing input, please specify: • The question number(s) you are responding to; • Whether your comments apply to the Gulf of Mexico, Southern California, or other U.S. regions/areas; and • Whether your comments apply to specific type(s) of offshore aquaculture (finfish, macroalgae, shellfish, or a combination of species). khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Input Requested To Inform the Identification of AOAs in Federal Waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Southern California 1. With input from industry and based on previous permit applications, we have identified the water depths and maximum distances from shore (see a. and b. below) that we expect to support aquaculture within Federal waters (i.e., U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone) of the Gulf of Mexico and Southern California as starting points for the process of identifying AOAs. Are there types of offshore aquaculture that these areas may or may not support, or are there other water depths and maximum distances from shore that should be considered, and why? a. In the Gulf of Mexico, we are looking at areas that: i. Are within the depth range of 50 to 150 meters. ii. Do not have a specified maximum distance from shore. b. In Southern California, we are looking at areas that: i. Are within the depth range of 10 to 150 meters. ii. Are a maximum distance of 25 nautical miles from shore. 2. Are there specific locations or habitats within Federal waters of the VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:09 Oct 22, 2020 Jkt 253001 Gulf of Mexico or Southern California that should be considered for AOAs? Are there specific locations that should be avoided? Please be as specific as possible and include latitude and longitude or defining landmarks. Please indicate why such areas should be considered or avoided, for example, favorable biological parameters, water quality (e.g., nutrients or other constituents that might make an area favorable), proximity to infrastructure (e.g., ports, processing plants, hatcheries or nurseries that could supply fingerlings for grow-out), relationship to other planned initiatives, etc. 3. Are there specific locations within Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico or Southern California where the presence of aquaculture gear may overlap with areas utilized by protected species (e.g., large whales, sea turtles, dolphins, etc.)? 4. Are there specific locations within Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico or Southern California that should be avoided because of concerns about harmful algal blooms (HABs) or impaired water quality? Please specify whether these concerns are related to: (a) Aquaculture activities being impacted by HABs and impaired water quality, or (b) aquaculture activities contributing to HABs and impaired water quality? 5. Is there ongoing environmental, economic, or social science research that would assist in the identification and implementation of AOAs in Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico or Southern California? If so, please describe in as much detail as is available. 6. Is there information that may not be readily available or accessible online that would be useful for AOA planning processes in Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Southern California? This includes spatial data or geographic information system (GIS) layers representing environmental and socioeconomic considerations, or a point of contact for these data, for the following categories: —Biophysical/oceanographic (wave climate, currents, bathymetry) —Natural resources (minerals, energy resources, fishes and aquatic organisms, protected species and habitats, coral reefs, biodiversity) —Social and cultural resources —Government boundaries —Industry (fishing, energy production, transportation, communication cables) —Military —Navigation PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 67521 Input Requested To Inform the Identification of Future AOAs, Nationally 7. What regions of the country should be considered for future AOAs? a. New England (Maine through Connecticut) b. Mid-Atlantic (New York through Virginia) c. South Atlantic (North Carolina through east coast Florida) d. U.S. Caribbean (Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands) e. Gulf of Mexico (west coast Florida through Texas) f. Alaska g. Washington through California h. Hawai’i, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and U.S. Pacific Remote Island Areas 8. Are there specific locations within those regions identified in response to #7 that should be considered for future AOAs? Please be as specific as possible and include latitude and longitude or defining landmarks. Please indicate why these areas are of interest, including favorable biological parameters, water quality (e.g., nutrients or other constituents that might make an area favorable), proximity to infrastructure (e.g., ports, processing plants, hatcheries or nurseries that could supply fingerlings for grow-out), relationship to other planned initiatives, etc. 9. Within those regions identified in response to #7, what resource use conflicts should we consider as we identify future AOAs? Please describe specific considerations that might make an area unfavorable, including ongoing or planned activities or ocean uses. 10. Is there ongoing environmental, economic, or social science research that would assist in the identification and implementation of future AOAs? If so, please describe in as much detail as is available. 11. We are soliciting information on siting requirements for aquaculture operations to inform spatial analysis for future AOAs. For the region(s) identified in response to #7, please provide: a. Minimum and maximum depth needed to operate aquaculture farms. b. Minimum and maximum current conditions that could impact farm operation. c. Minimum and maximum wave climate that could impact farm operation. d. Proximity to shore. 12. If states express interest in developing offshore aquaculture, should we also consider state waters as areas for future AOAs? E:\FR\FM\23OCN1.SGM 23OCN1 67522 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 206 / Friday, October 23, 2020 / Notices (Authority: E.O. 13921) Dated: October 19, 2020. Danielle Blacklock, Director, Office of Aquaculture, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. [FR Doc. 2020–23487 Filed 10–22–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Patent and Trademark Office Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for Review and Approval; Comments Request; Substantive Submissions Made During Prosecution of the Trademark Application United States Patent and Trademark Office, Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice of information collection; request for comment. AGENCY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, invites comments on the extension and revision of an existing information collection: 0651–0054 (Substantive Submissions Made During Prosecution of the Trademark Application). The purpose of this notice is to allow 60 days for public comment preceding submission of the information collection to OMB. DATES: To ensure consideration, comments regarding this information collection must be received on or before December 22, 2020. ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments by any of the following methods. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. • Email: InformationCollection@ uspto.gov. Include ‘‘0651–0054 comment’’ in the subject line of the message. • Federal Rulemaking Portal: https:// www.regulations.gov. • Mail: Kimberly Hardy, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, United States Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313– 1450. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Requests for additional information should be directed to Catherine Cain, khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: 1 2019 Report of the Economic Survey, published by the Committee on Economics of Legal Practice of the American Intellectual Property Law VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:09 Oct 22, 2020 Jkt 253001 Attorney Advisor, United States Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313–1450; by telephone at 571–272–8946; or by email to catherine.cain@uspto.gov with ‘‘0651–0054 comment’’ in the subject line. Additional information about this information collection is also available at https://www.reginfo.gov under ‘‘Information Collection Review.’’ SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Abstract The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) administers the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. 1051 et seq., which provides for the Federal registration of trademarks, service marks, collective trademarks and service marks, collective membership marks, and certification marks. Individuals and businesses that use or intend to use such marks in commerce may file an application to register their mark with the USPTO. Such individuals and businesses may also submit various communications to the USPTO during the prosecution of an application. This information collection covers the various communications that may be submitted by the applicant, including providing additional information needed to process a request to delete a particular filing basis from an application or to divide an application identifying multiple goods and/or services into two or more separate applications. This information collection also covers requests for a 6month extension of time to file a statement that the mark is in use in commerce or petitions to revive an application that abandoned for failure to submit a timely response to an office action or a timely statement of use or extension request. This information collection also covers circumstances in which an applicant may expressly abandon an application by filing a written request for withdrawal of the application. The regulations implementing the Act are set forth in 37 CFR part 2. These regulations mandate that each register entry include the mark, the goods and/ or services in connection with which the mark is used, ownership information, dates of use, and certain other information. The USPTO also provides similar information concerning pending applications. The register and pending application information may be accessed by an individual or by businesses to determine the availability Association (AIPLA); https://www.aipla.org/detail/ journal-issue/2019-report-of-the-economic-survey. PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 of a mark. By accessing the USPTO’s information, parties may reduce the possibility of initiating use of a mark previously adopted by another. The Federal trademark registration process may thereby reduce the number of filings between both litigating parties and the courts. II. Method of Collection Items in this information collection must be submitted via online electronic submissions. In limited circumstances, applicants may be permitted to submit the information in paper form by mail, fax, or hand delivery. III. Data OMB Control Number: 0651–0054. Forms: (PTO = Patent and Trademark Office) • PTO Form 1553 (Trademark/Service Mark Allegation of Use (Statement of Use/Amendment to Allege Use)) • PTO Form 1581 (Request for Extension of Time to File a Statement of Use) • PTO Form 2194 (Petition to Revive Abandoned Application—Failure to Respond Timely to Office Action) • PTO Form 2195 (Petition to Revive Abandoned Application—Failure to File Timely Statement of Use or Extension Request) • PTO Form 2200 (Request to Delete Section 1(b) Basis, Intent to Use) • PTO Form 2202 (Request for Express Abandonment (Withdrawal) of Application) • PTO Form 2301 (Petition to Director) Type of Review: Revision of a currently approved information collection. Affected Public: Private sector; individuals or households. Estimated Number of Respondents: 333,582 respondents per year. Estimated Number of Responses: 333,582 responses per year. Estimated Time per Response: The USPTO estimates that it will take the public from approximately 27 minutes (0.5 hours) to 65 minutes (1.1 hours) to complete a response, depending on the complexity of the situation. This includes the time to gather the necessary information, prepare the appropriate documents, and submit the information to the USPTO. Estimated Total Annual Respondent Burden Hours: 208,219 hours. Estimated Total Annual Respondent (Hourly) Cost Burden: $83,287,600. The USPTO uses the mean rate for attorneys in private firms which is $400 per hour. E:\FR\FM\23OCN1.SGM 23OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 206 (Friday, October 23, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 67519-67522]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-23487]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[RTID 0648-XA406]


Aquaculture Opportunity Areas

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice; request for information.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: On May 7, 2020, the White House issued an Executive Order 
(E.O.) on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic 
Growth, which requires the Secretary of Commerce to identify geographic 
areas containing locations suitable for commercial aquaculture, and 
complete a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Programmatic 
Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for each area to assess the 
impact of siting aquaculture facilities there. NOAA requests that 
interested parties provide relevant information on the identification 
of areas within Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and off Southern 
California, south of Point Conception, for the first two Aquaculture 
Opportunity Areas (AOA) and on what areas NOAA should consider 
nationally for future AOAs. Please respond to the questions listed in 
the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section, as appropriate. The public input 
provided in response to this request for information (RFI) will inform 
NOAA as it works with Federal agencies, appropriate Regional Fishery 
Management Councils, and in coordination with appropriate State and 
tribal governments to identify AOAs.

DATES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments on or 
before December 22, 2020.
    Four webinar-based listening sessions are scheduled. Each will 
focus on a specific region or national comments, but comments on each 
topic will be accepted at all meetings:
    1. November 5, 2020, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern: National listening 
session.
    2. November 12, 2020, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Pacific: Southern 
California listening session.
    3. November 17, 2020, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern: Gulf of Mexico 
listening session.
    4. November 19, 2020, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern: National listening 
session.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2020-0118, 
by the following method:
    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via 
the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2020-0118, click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, 
complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
    Webinar links: Links and toll-free phone numbers for each webinar 
can be found at: https://

[[Page 67520]]

www.fisheries.noaa.gov/aquaculture-opportunity-areas.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous 
comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you wish to remain 
anonymous).
    Please note that the U.S. Government will not pay for response 
preparation, or for the use of any information contained in the 
response.
    If you are unable to provide electronic comments, please contact: 
Kristy Beard, 301-427-8333 or nmfs.aquaculture.info@noaa.gov">nmfs.aquaculture.info@noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kristy Beard, 301-427-8333 or 
nmfs.aquaculture.info@noaa.gov">nmfs.aquaculture.info@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On May 7, 2020, the President signed a new 
E.O. on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth 
(E.O. 13921). The E.O. calls for the expansion of sustainable U.S. 
seafood production. NOAA also has directives to promote sustainable 
aquaculture in the U.S. through the National Aquaculture Act of 1980 
and the NOAA Marine Aquaculture Policy. NOAA has a variety of proven 
science-based tools and strategies that can support these directives 
and help communities thoughtfully consider how and where to sustainably 
develop offshore aquaculture that will complement wild-capture 
fisheries, working waterfronts, and our nation's seafood processing and 
distribution infrastructure.
    Section 7 of the E.O. directs the Secretary of Commerce to identify 
AOAs in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of 
the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Homeland 
Security, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, 
other appropriate Federal officials, and appropriate Regional Fishery 
Management Councils, and in coordination with appropriate State and 
tribal governments. This includes:
    1. Within 1 year of the E.O., identify at least two geographic 
areas containing locations suitable for commercial aquaculture;
    2. Within 2 years of identifying each area, complete a NEPA PEIS 
for each area to assess the impact of siting aquaculture facilities 
there;
    3. For each of the following 4 years, identify two additional 
geographic areas containing locations suitable for commercial 
aquaculture and complete a PEIS for each within 2 years.
    These geographic areas will be referred to as AOAs once the PEIS is 
complete. Identifying AOAs is an opportunity to use the best available 
science on sustainable aquaculture management, and support the ``triple 
bottom line'' of environmental, economic, and social sustainability. 
This approach has been refined and utilized widely within states and by 
other countries with robust, sustainable aquaculture sectors. The 3-
year process to identify and complete a PEIS for each AOA will result 
in the identification of a geographic area that, through scientific 
analysis and public engagement, is determined to be environmentally, 
socially, and economically suitable for aquaculture. The areas 
identified as AOAs will have characteristics that are expected to be 
able to support multiple aquaculture farm sites of varying types, but 
all portions of the AOA may not be appropriate for aquaculture or for 
all types of aquaculture. Through spatial modeling, NOAA expects to 
identify areas that may support approximately three to five aquaculture 
operations in each of the first two AOAs. The most suitable locations 
for aquaculture operations within an AOA would be considered through 
the PEIS, and locations for individual operations would be considered 
during the required permitting process and associated environmental 
consultations.
    To identify the first two geographic areas containing locations 
suitable for commercial aquaculture within one year of the Executive 
Order, NOAA will focus on Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and 
Southern California, south of Point Conception, because there is 
existing spatial analysis data and current industry interest in 
developing sustainable aquaculture operations in these regions. NOAA 
will further narrow those areas using a combination of spatial mapping 
approaches, scientific review, and public input. NOAA's National 
Centers for Coastal Ocean Science will use the best available data to 
account for key environmental, economic, social, and cultural 
considerations to identify areas that may support sustainable 
aquaculture development. NOAA will then combine those results with 
input from other Federal agencies, Fishery Management Councils, Marine 
Fisheries Commissions, states and tribes, and the general public to 
identify the first two geographic areas that will be considered in more 
depth through the PEIS. Public input on identification of geographic 
areas will be gathered through this RFI; additional opportunities for 
input will be provided during the PEIS process for each area.
    NOAA may use the information received through this RFI in the NEPA 
PEIS process. The information could inform the development of potential 
NEPA alternatives, such as different locations, different aquaculture 
types in each location (e.g., finfish in one location, shellfish in 
another location), and different configurations of farm locations and 
aquaculture types. NOAA expects to publish a notice of intent (NOI) to 
prepare a PEIS for each of the first two AOAs in the Gulf of Mexico and 
Southern California after identifying at least two geographic areas 
containing locations suitable for commercial aquaculture. Public 
notices announcing the NOI and announcing the availability of a draft 
PEIS will provide future opportunities for public comment on the first 
two AOAs.
    NOAA is also requesting public input on what areas should be 
considered nationally for future AOAs. NOAA will use the information 
received from this RFI to help determine where to focus efforts for 
future AOAs. NOAA expects to continue providing opportunities for 
public comment until all 10 AOAs have been identified over the next 5 
years.
    Aquaculture operations proposed within an AOA would have the same 
Federal and state permitting and authorization requirements as anywhere 
else and would be required to comply with all applicable Federal and 
state laws and regulations. Site-specific environmental surveys may be 
required for the permitting process. Additional NEPA analysis beyond 
the PEIS for the AOA(s) may be necessary as a part of permitting and 
authorization processes for individual operations. NOAA will work with 
the Federal agencies responsible for permitting offshore aquaculture 
(e.g., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental 
Protection Agency) throughout the AOA identification process to 
identify information NOAA can include in the PEIS to help inform future 
permitting needs.
    Additional information on AOAs, including frequently asked 
questions, is available on NOAA's website at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/insight/aquaculture-opportunity-areas.

[[Page 67521]]

Questions To Inform the Identification of the First Two AOAs, in the 
Gulf of Mexico and Southern California, and Locations for Future AOAs, 
Nationally

    Through this RFI, NOAA (we) seeks written public input on the 
identification of the first two AOAs. NOAA announced in August 2020 
that the first two AOAs would be in Federal waters (i.e., U.S. 
Exclusive Economic Zone) of the Gulf of Mexico and Southern California; 
the comments received through this RFI will help us identify specific 
locations within those regions which we will consider in more depth 
through the PEIS process. There will be additional opportunities for 
public comment during the PEIS process.
    We also seek public input on what regions of the country should be 
considered as we go through the process to identify two more geographic 
areas per year, for a total of 10 by 2025.
    When providing input, please specify:
     The question number(s) you are responding to;
     Whether your comments apply to the Gulf of Mexico, 
Southern California, or other U.S. regions/areas; and
     Whether your comments apply to specific type(s) of 
offshore aquaculture (finfish, macroalgae, shellfish, or a combination 
of species).

Input Requested To Inform the Identification of AOAs in Federal Waters 
of the Gulf of Mexico and Southern California

    1. With input from industry and based on previous permit 
applications, we have identified the water depths and maximum distances 
from shore (see a. and b. below) that we expect to support aquaculture 
within Federal waters (i.e., U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone) of the Gulf 
of Mexico and Southern California as starting points for the process of 
identifying AOAs. Are there types of offshore aquaculture that these 
areas may or may not support, or are there other water depths and 
maximum distances from shore that should be considered, and why?
    a. In the Gulf of Mexico, we are looking at areas that:
    i. Are within the depth range of 50 to 150 meters.
    ii. Do not have a specified maximum distance from shore.
    b. In Southern California, we are looking at areas that:
    i. Are within the depth range of 10 to 150 meters.
    ii. Are a maximum distance of 25 nautical miles from shore.
    2. Are there specific locations or habitats within Federal waters 
of the Gulf of Mexico or Southern California that should be considered 
for AOAs? Are there specific locations that should be avoided? Please 
be as specific as possible and include latitude and longitude or 
defining landmarks. Please indicate why such areas should be considered 
or avoided, for example, favorable biological parameters, water quality 
(e.g., nutrients or other constituents that might make an area 
favorable), proximity to infrastructure (e.g., ports, processing 
plants, hatcheries or nurseries that could supply fingerlings for grow-
out), relationship to other planned initiatives, etc.
    3. Are there specific locations within Federal waters of the Gulf 
of Mexico or Southern California where the presence of aquaculture gear 
may overlap with areas utilized by protected species (e.g., large 
whales, sea turtles, dolphins, etc.)?
    4. Are there specific locations within Federal waters of the Gulf 
of Mexico or Southern California that should be avoided because of 
concerns about harmful algal blooms (HABs) or impaired water quality? 
Please specify whether these concerns are related to: (a) Aquaculture 
activities being impacted by HABs and impaired water quality, or (b) 
aquaculture activities contributing to HABs and impaired water quality?
    5. Is there ongoing environmental, economic, or social science 
research that would assist in the identification and implementation of 
AOAs in Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico or Southern California? If 
so, please describe in as much detail as is available.
    6. Is there information that may not be readily available or 
accessible online that would be useful for AOA planning processes in 
Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Southern California? This 
includes spatial data or geographic information system (GIS) layers 
representing environmental and socioeconomic considerations, or a point 
of contact for these data, for the following categories:
--Biophysical/oceanographic (wave climate, currents, bathymetry)
--Natural resources (minerals, energy resources, fishes and aquatic 
organisms, protected species and habitats, coral reefs, biodiversity)
--Social and cultural resources
--Government boundaries
--Industry (fishing, energy production, transportation, communication 
cables)
--Military
--Navigation

Input Requested To Inform the Identification of Future AOAs, Nationally

    7. What regions of the country should be considered for future 
AOAs?
a. New England (Maine through Connecticut)
b. Mid-Atlantic (New York through Virginia)
c. South Atlantic (North Carolina through east coast Florida)
d. U.S. Caribbean (Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands)
e. Gulf of Mexico (west coast Florida through Texas)
f. Alaska
g. Washington through California
h. Hawai'i, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern 
Mariana Islands, and U.S. Pacific Remote Island Areas

    8. Are there specific locations within those regions identified in 
response to #7 that should be considered for future AOAs? Please be as 
specific as possible and include latitude and longitude or defining 
landmarks. Please indicate why these areas are of interest, including 
favorable biological parameters, water quality (e.g., nutrients or 
other constituents that might make an area favorable), proximity to 
infrastructure (e.g., ports, processing plants, hatcheries or nurseries 
that could supply fingerlings for grow-out), relationship to other 
planned initiatives, etc.
    9. Within those regions identified in response to #7, what resource 
use conflicts should we consider as we identify future AOAs? Please 
describe specific considerations that might make an area unfavorable, 
including ongoing or planned activities or ocean uses.
    10. Is there ongoing environmental, economic, or social science 
research that would assist in the identification and implementation of 
future AOAs? If so, please describe in as much detail as is available.
    11. We are soliciting information on siting requirements for 
aquaculture operations to inform spatial analysis for future AOAs. For 
the region(s) identified in response to #7, please provide:
    a. Minimum and maximum depth needed to operate aquaculture farms.
    b. Minimum and maximum current conditions that could impact farm 
operation.
    c. Minimum and maximum wave climate that could impact farm 
operation.
    d. Proximity to shore.
    12. If states express interest in developing offshore aquaculture, 
should we also consider state waters as areas for future AOAs?


[[Page 67522]]


(Authority: E.O. 13921)

    Dated: October 19, 2020.
Danielle Blacklock,
Director, Office of Aquaculture, National Marine Fisheries Service, 
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
[FR Doc. 2020-23487 Filed 10-22-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P