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Notice

Aquaculture; Public Meeting

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Notice of public meeting.

SUMMARY:

This is to notify the aquaculture industries, interested parties, and the general public that a public meeting will be held to discuss how and to what extent the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service should regulate aquatic species, and to discuss any other issues concerning possible regulation of aquaculture by the Agency.

DATES:

The public meeting will be held on Thursday, January 25, 2001, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

ADDRESSES:

The public meeting will be held at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort, 1000 West Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, FL, in conjunction with the Aquaculture 2001 Conference.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

For information about the APHIS public meeting, contact Dr. Otis Miller, Jr., National Aquaculture Coordinator, Center for Planning, Certification, and Monitoring, VS, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 46, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231, (301) 734-6188.

Information regarding the Aquaculture 2001 Conference is available on the Internet at http://www.wasmeetings.org/​Pages/​Orlando2001_​RegBroc.html.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

On May 4, 1999, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published in the Federal Register (64 FR 23795-23796, Docket No. 98-085-1) an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) titled “Aquaculture: Farm-Raised Fin Fish.” We published this ANPR after receiving petitions [1] asking us to regulate aquaculture in various ways. Many petitioners asked us to define farmed aquatic animals as livestock. In general, the petitioners seemed to be interested in receiving the same services that domestic producers of livestock receive for animals moving in interstate and foreign commerce. However, based on the petitions alone, it was difficult for us to determine what segments of the industry want services and exactly what services they want. It was also difficult to determine the objectives sought by the petitioners who were requesting Federal regulation. We published the ANPR in an attempt to clarify the industry's needs, the nature of the services sought, and the concerns the petitioners had with regard to such regulations.

We received 55 comments 2 in response to the ANPR. A majority of the commenters supported the idea of APHIS regulation of cultured fin fish. Unfortunately, the commenters generally did not clearly distinguish between fin fish raised for food and ornamental fin fish. Commenters who wanted regulation were, however, very clear that they want programs to prevent and control disease and to support increased commerce, both domestic and export.

The commenters also suggested that any rulemaking initiated by APHIS be a negotiated rulemaking. In negotiated rulemaking, industry representatives and other interested persons meet with APHIS officials and draft proposed regulations together. The proposed regulations are then published for public comment. Negotiated rulemaking is designed to ensure that all interested persons are involved together from the start to develop regulations.

Unfortunately, negotiated rulemaking is not suitable for all situations. It works well when there is a small number of interested parties and the parties are easy to identify. This is not the case with regard to aquaculture. The aquaculture industry is very large and diverse. It would be difficult for us to identify everyone who should be represented in a negotiated rulemaking. In addition, there are many parties outside aquaculture that would have a substantial interest in such a rulemaking. In our view, the number of people who would need to participate in a negotiated rulemaking would be too large and would suggest that negotiated rulemaking is not appropriate. Furthermore, a large negotiated rulemaking would be expensive, and APHIS does not have adequate funds. Therefore, we have concluded that it would not be appropriate to pursue an aquaculture negotiated rulemaking.

We have not, however, decided whether to pursue aquaculture rulemaking by other means. Before we make that decision, we want to have as much information as possible from all interested persons, and we want to provide the aquaculture industries and other interested persons with as much opportunity as possible to discuss with us and inform us regarding the relevant issues.

Therefore, we are planning to hold a series of public meetings. Public meetings will allow anyone who is interested—industry representatives, producers, consumers, and others—to present their views and to exchange information among themselves and with APHIS.

There will be no set agendas for the meetings. Any issues and concerns related to aquaculture and possible APHIS regulatory action can be discussed. However, there are three specific issues on which we would like more information. These are issues that the people and organizations who commented on our ANPR either did not address or were unclear about. Specifically, if APHIS does propose regulations: (1) Should our program be mandatory or voluntary; (2) should we cover shell fish; and (3) should we cover ornamental fin fish?

Information elicited at the meetings could result in a new APHIS regulatory program, or in changes to aquaculture-related services currently provided by APHIS. We have scheduled the first public meeting for Thursday, January 25, 2001, at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

If you wish to speak at the meeting, please register in advance by calling the Regulatory Analysis and Development Start Printed Page 70331voice mail at (301) 734-8139. Leave a message with your name, telephone number, organization, if any, and an estimate of the time you need to speak. You may also register at the meeting itself. Please register at the meeting room between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., before the meeting officially begins. Starting with the advance registrants, we will call speakers in the order in which they registered.

The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. and is scheduled to end at 3 p.m. We may end the meeting early if all the registered speakers have had a chance to speak and if no one else wants to speak. We may also extend the meeting, or limit the time allowed for each speaker, if necessary, so all interested persons have an opportunity to participate.

An APHIS representative will preside at the meeting. The meeting will be recorded. We encourage speakers to present written statements, though it is not required. If you choose to present a written statement, please provide the chairperson with a copy. The complete record, including the transcript and all written comments, will be available to the public.

This meeting is the first in a planned series of public meetings. We plan to hold additional meetings in Idaho, Illinois (Chicago), Maine, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Washington. We will publish a notice or notices in the Federal Register announcing the dates, times, and locations of the meetings.

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Done in Washington, DC, this 16th day of November 2000.

Bobby R. Acord,

Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

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Footnotes

1.  All the petitions and comments we received are a part of the rulemaking record for Docket No. 98-085-1. You may read the petitions and comments in our reading room. The reading room is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 690-2817 before coming.

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[FR Doc. 00-29831 Filed 11-21-00; 8:45 am]

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