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www.sea-technology.com SECTION A • The Ocean/Marine Market • BG 2017 13 of expanding sustainable U.S. marine aquaculture produc- tion by at least 50 percent by the year 2020. "As demand for seafood continues to rise, aquaculture presents a tremendous opportunity not only to meet this de- mand, but also to increase opportunities for the seafood in- dustry and job creation," said NOAA Administrator Dr. Kath- ryn Sullivan. "Expanding U.S. aquaculture in federal waters complements wild-harvest fisheries and supports our efforts to maintain sustainable fisheries and resilient oceans." ST Rick Martin is the publisher of Commercial Fisheries News and Fish Farming News. Election 2016: Looking for Energy Leaders T he 2016 election was one for the ages. With the media frenzy that surrounded the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, analyzing every Tweet and parsing of every wink and nod, it is very easy for America to for- get that there are real policy issues that deserve national at- tention. One of these issues is energy, and it impacts every American. Despite being the bastion of American energy security and productivity, the oil and gas industry is taking an unprec- edented beating in 2016. Early in the year, oil prices fell to $28 per barrel, the lowest price in 14 years. Tighter budgets and smaller payrolls have meant that nearly 118,000 oil and gas jobs in the United States have been lost. Simultaneously, the outgoing Obama Administration released an unrelenting tide of costly regulations, some of which constrict oil and gas exploration and development, without increasing safety or environmental protection. While other industries that have found themselves in similarly challenging situations have sought (and some have received) federal bailouts, our indus- try has trudged through. The health of the oil and gas industry impacts every American, and our industry safely produces reliable and affordable energy. Think about this past summer: We enjoy night-time baseball games, summer vacations and wonder- ful and refreshing air conditioning. Now contrast this to Ca- racas, the capital of Venezuela. Caracas is off fossil fuels and is fully dependent on hydroelectric power. However, with a severe and ongoing drought, Venezuela's dams cannot pro- duce enough electricity to meet the demands of Caracas's citizens, resulting in five-day weekends to curb energy de- mand. This may seem like a sweet deal; except you're prob- ably stuck at home without Netflix or even air conditioning, and your leftovers from Thursday night are no good. Helping to keep the U.S. running is the offshore oil and gas industry. Sixteen percent of total U.S. crude oil produc- tion and 5 percent of total U.S. natural gas production comes from offshore. This is a sizable chunk, especially when you consider the fact that federal policies keep 87 percent of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) closed to oil and gas ex- ploration and development. These challenges to our industry are exacerbated as the Obama Administration apparently bows to the unrealistic demands of the "keep it in the ground movement" and continues to issue new regulations and poli- cies that limit access to offshore oil and natural gas. Last March, in a short-sighted and troubling move, the administration removed Atlantic Lease Sale 260, keeping the entire Atlantic OCS off-limits for oil and gas development. A majority of the residents of the states bordering the initially should be made by the New England Fishery Management Council, allowing for a more transparent public process. Those who favor the designation, however, were appeal- ing to Obama to use his authority under the Antiquities Act, which has been exercised by past presidents more than 100 times since passage in 1906 to protect U.S. lands and waters in the public's interest. But by invoking those powers, the Obama Administra- tion could effectively circumvent any further discussion, public comment or oversight by Congress, acting on the monument proposals with the stroke of a pen. In Hawaii, the proposal to quadruple the size of the Papa- hanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the north- western Hawaiian Islands to 580,000 sq. mi. provoked its own groundswell of opposition and similar calls for a public process. In response, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) co-sponsored H.R. 330, the Marine Ac- cess and State Transparency (MAST) Act, in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill was designed to prevent Presi- dent Obama, or any future president, from unilaterally des- ignating offshore areas as national monuments and restrict- ing the public's ability to fish there. In August, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service, Obama made the move to ex- pand Papahanaumokuakea out to the 200-mi. limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone, with commercial fishing prohib- ited. Following that, in September, Obama designated the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monu- ment, thus ending speculation about the Atlantic proposal. Oil and gas exploration and drilling and most commercial fishing are banned from the new monument. While the U.S. commercial fishing industry was fighting to preserve its access to ocean waters under federal juris- diction, the domestic aquaculture industry was celebrating long-awaited action opening the door to expansion of so- called "open ocean aquaculture" in this country. In early 2016, NOAA announced the publication of a groundbreaking rule implementing the Fishery Manage- ment Plan for Aquaculture in Federal Waters of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf Aquaculture Plan). The rule is a major step forward because it allows for large-scale fish farming in offshore federal waters of the Gulf—beyond state waters, where U.S. aquaculture has historically remained. The case for growing domestic fish farming is strong. The U.S. continues to import nearly 90 percent of all seafood consumed here, half of which is from aquaculture sources. But the U.S. remains a minor producer, with only about 5 percent of the nation's seafood supply coming from domes- tic freshwater and marine aquaculture. Following on the heels of the Gulf Aquaculture Plan, NOAA Fisheries also released its Marine Aquaculture Stra- tegic Plan, which will guide the agency's efforts to support development of sustainable marine aquaculture in the pe- riod from 2016 to 2020. The plan features four main goals: regulatory efficiency, science tools for sustainable manage- ment, technology development and transfer, and an in- formed public. Cross-cutting strategies of the plan include strengthening partnerships, improving external communica- tions, building infrastructure to support marine aquaculture, and sound program management. It also establishes a target