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Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies

Aquaculture and Commercial Fishing #6

Aquaculture and commercial fishing are major contributors to our Michigan food basket and should be recognized as a part of agriculture.

We support:

  • Updating the Aquaculture Development Act to reflect the status and potential of the industry.

  • Better collaboration between the state agencies and the aquaculture industry that leads to greater investment and enhancement of state hatcheries/fisheries, the commercial fishing industry, and the commercial aquaculture industry. Additional enhancements should also include changes to the permitting process that advance the growth of Michigan's aquaculture industry.

  • Urging regulatory agencies, along with Michigan Economic Development Corporation, state universities, and the aquaculture industry to continue cooperating to address regulatory needs, while at the same time facilitating the continued growth of aquaculture through streamlining regulation and facilitating access to capital for development.

  • Annually reviewing and updating the memorandum of understanding between Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (MDEGLE) and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR).

  • MDARD, MDEGLE, and MDNR understanding that generational transition and industry growth in aquaculture, commercial fishing, and agriculture are critical for future industry success and food security in the state when regulatory decisions are made.

  • The State of Michigan prioritizing food production from aquaculture and commercial fishing at the same level as the recreational fishing industry.

  • Harmonization of the state and federal definition of aquaculture.

  • The concept of group or lot identification for aquaculture species.

  • MDARD registration of out-of-state producers who market aquaculture products in Michigan and enforcement of regulations related to importation of aquaculture products.

  • Funding, research development, and approval of live fish tests to eliminate the need to sacrifice fish, as is the current requirement.

  • If an individual farm has an established herd health plan and a disease status that declares it to be free of regulated aquaculture diseases, that farm should have the ability to ship product interstate.

  • MDARD cooperating with other states and establishing agreements allowing shipment of fish from Michigan into other states that follow similar protocol.

  • MFB being involved in Michigan Aquaculture Association’s strategic plan development.

  • Michigan State University establishing an aquaculture program containing dedicated faculty to support and enhance the industry. The program should include research, extension and demonstration and be housed under an agricultural development department.

  • Industry-developed herd plans to include the option for slaughter surveillance testing, where feasible, and be implemented on a voluntary basis with MDARD being the lead agency.

  • Development of science-based aquaculture disease control policies that also take into account indemnification of losses to producers.

  • The right of commercial fishermen to pursue fishing operations in a responsible manner. The MDNR should not adopt regulations more restrictive than those applied to tribal fisheries.

  • Expansion of opportunities to allow sustainable commercial fishing of additional species of fish in the Great Lakes.

  • MDARD having authority over commercial fishing when the fish leave the net.

  • Allocation of funds for research to more effectively manage and utilize this natural resource.

  • Efforts of the commercial fishing industry to establish a program under PA 232 of 1965.

  • The adoption of Best Management Practices (BMPs) as National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit compliance, rather than individual permits with numerical discharge limitations for aquaculture facilities. If individual permits are required, it should only be for facilities that produce over 20,000 pounds annually and only if on a one-page permit application.

  • Streamlining the NPDES permit process by developing a general permit based on BMPs to reduce water testing requirements.

  • The ability to conduct aquaculture production in current and prior converted wetlands and within the natural rivers districts.

  • MDNR producing and providing fish, at a fair price, for stocking and growth on Michigan aquaculture farms for food production.

  • Enabling legislation and/or the regulatory framework to allow the development of a properly regulated open water net pen aquaculture/cage culture of fish in the Great Lakes and other water bodies.

  • Development of a national aquaculture check-off program.

  • Appropriate staffing within MDARD to lead and collaborate with other agencies on a planned, designed and streamlined process for approval and permitting of aquaculture and commercial fishing processing facilities.

  • Industry oversight on any new state or federal funds for aquaculture or commercial fishing with a majority of the funds going to aquaculture and commercial fishing producers.

We oppose:

  • Any ban on the use of biotechnology in aquaculture without specific evidence or demonstration of harm by the technology.

  • Individual identification for aquaculture in the event animal identification is mandated.

  • Restrictions on the culture or stocking of rainbow trout based on genetic strain.

  • Immediate implementation of new Environmental Protection Agency effluent standards if operational viability is jeopardized.

  • Increasing NPDES permit restrictions or compliance requirements without sound scientific justification.

  • The use of the Lacey Act to regulate the interstate movement of aquaculture products and urge immediate action to address current prosecutions, as well as a cessation of this practice by regulatory officials.

  • Testing requirements for the stocking of fish in Michigan that are more restrictive than national requirements set by the International Office of Epizootics.

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