Advocacy Group Applauds House Aquaculture Standards Bill

Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
Bridget Headshot
Advocacy Group Applauds House Aquaculture Standards Bill Collin Peterson

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D, Minn., and Rep. Steven Palazzo R, Miss., introduced on March 11 the bipartisan Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, a move cheered by advocacy group Stronger America Through Seafood (SATS).

“A predictable regulatory framework and national standards for aquaculture production are critical to the competitiveness of the American seafood industry, which currently faces a seafood trade deficit of $14 billion,” noted Bill DiMento, president of Shelton, Wash.-based SATS and VP of corporate sustainability and government affairs at Lunenburg, Nova Scotia-based High Liner Foods.

Continued DiMento: “Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food sector in the world, but the U.S. ranks only 16th in the production of farm-raised seafood. Half of the fish eaten in the United States comes from farms – but not from American farms. We can do better. With global demand for seafood projected to increase by 70% in the next 30 years – domestic aquaculture, combined with our wild fish harvesting – could one day meet the entire U.S. demand for seafood. Federal legislation is an important first step.” 

Advocacy Group Applauds House Aquaculture Standards Bill Steven Palazzo

The AQUAA Act would establish national standards for sustainable offshore aquaculture and clarify a regulatory pathway for offshore aquaculture in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ), with the aim supporting the growth of the domestic offshore aquaculture industry. This would in turn would stimulate economic growth in coastal and agricultural communities across the United States, create thousands of jobs, and provide a steady supply of healthy and affordable seafood, while protecting wild-capture fisheries and natural resources, according to SATS.

The advocacy group added that increased aquaculture production would also benefit farmers of soybeans, corn and peas, as these products would be used to make fish feed, lowering pressure on ocean resources while providing a new market for the farmers.

“Aquaculture is a fast-growing agriculture industry that is creating jobs and improving our country’s food security,” said Peterson. “Our bill will streamline the permitting process and build upon research and development efforts that are underway.”

Noted Palazzo: “The United States imports nearly 90% of our seafood, and of that, more than half is produced through foreign aquaculture. The AQUAA Act streamlines the federal permitting process to usher in a wave of American aquaculture and reduce our dependency on foreign seafood imports while we grow a sustainable market. Food security is national security, and we must work to ensure America is prepared to meet the needs of tomorrow’s food demand.”

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