Collin Peterson, House Agriculture Committee Chairman, and Congressman Steven Palazzo introduced the bipartisan Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives to increase the United States’ involvement in the production of healthy, sustainable and affordable seafood.
“Aquaculture is a fast-growing agriculture industry that is creating jobs and improving our country’s food security,” said Peterson. “It also creates a market for soybeans as they provide nutritious aquafeed. Our bill will streamline the permitting process and build upon research and development efforts that are underway.”
“The United States imports nearly 90% of our seafood, and of that, more than half is produced through foreign aquaculture without domestic oversight," said Palazzo. "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.”
The AQUAA Act established an Office of Marine Aquaculture within the National Marine Fisheries Service at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) headquarters and regional offices to coordinate the federal permitting process. The legislation also establishes a permitting process to allow individuals time to secure financing for aquaculture operation while making no changes to current environmental standards but instead uphold and maintain existing standards. Additionally, the AQUAA Act authorizes expanded aquaculture research and development authorities at USDA.
Pilar Cruz, president of Cargill’s aqua nutrition business, said that “we’ve been very pleased with the work that Chairman Peterson and Representative Palazzo have undertaken to develop and introduce the AQUAA Act. This legislation could provide much-needed regulatory certainty for U.S. marine farmers while also preserving the environment, local economies and public health. Cargill also believes this bill can support U.S. farmers through increased production of aquafeed using U.S. soybeans. Legislation like the AQUAA Act will lead to increased U.S. seafood production that benefits all Americans.”
“The lack of a predictable, affordable and efficient permitting process for offshore aquaculture in the U.S. has led many American companies to establish operations overseas – sending jobs and economic opportunities abroad. Federal action aims to reverse that trend and increase U.S. production of healthful seafood,” Stronger America Through Seafood (SATS) said.