By Sam Hill, Seafood Source
April 21, 2020
Danielle Blacklock took over as director of NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Aquaculture in mid-March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic began to come to a head in the United States. Over the past decade, Blacklock has served in multiple positions at NOAA, most recently as a senior policy advisor for aquaculture. In that role, Blacklock completed a six-month assignment at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, focused on aquaculture sustainability globally. She also served as the acting deputy in the office for several months.
Blacklock is charged with overseeing the aquaculture component of NOAA’s sustainable seafood portfolio and providing the strategic vision for developing a stronger aquaculture industry in the United States. Nearly a month into her appointment, SeafoodSource connected with Blacklock to discuss her goals as director, the office’s response to COVID-19 complications and what the future of U.S. aquaculture looks like.
SeafoodSource: Is NOAA still prioritizing domestic aquaculture? What are some short- and long-term goals for the office?
Blacklock: Yes, increasing domestic marine aquaculture remains a priority for the Department of Commerce and NOAA. We are currently working in our organization, across the federal government, and with partners to support cutting-edge research and federal policy to expand the social, economic, and environmental benefits of marine aquaculture.
Short-term goals for the office include supporting the existing U.S. aquaculture industry through the challenges and impacts of COVID-19. NOAA recently stood up a team of experts from across the agency to collect and analyze COVID-19-related impacts on the U.S. commercial seafood industry, including wild harvest and aquaculture. We are focused on working with our stakeholders to provide guidance and assistance during this difficult time.
Longer-term, the office will continue to support technology development and transfer, a more efficient permitting process, and working to dispel misperceptions of sustainable aquaculture.
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