U.S. Senators introduced bipartisan legislation, the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act (S. 4723) in the U.S. Senate on September 24, 2020. The bipartisan AQUAA Act, which has companion legislation in the U.S. House, would support the development of offshore aquaculture industry in the U.S. to increase the production of sustainable seafood and establish new economic opportunities in federal waters.
“The expansion of domestic offshore aquaculture is a win-win for American communities nationwide,” said Bill DiMento, president of SATS and vice president of Corporate Sustainability and Government Affairs at High Liner Foods. “Growth of the American aquaculture industry would create new jobs, provide new business opportunities and grow our economy as our country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the opportunities that aquaculture can provide American communities, there is growing bipartisan support and momentum for federal action on aquaculture.”
The AQUAA Act would establish National Standards for offshore aquaculture and clarify a regulatory system for the development of aquaculture in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The legislation would also establish a research and technology grant program to fund innovative research and extension services focused on improving and advancing sustainable domestic aquaculture.
“With our extended coastline, expansive ocean resources, skilled labor force, superior technology, and ample feed sources, the U.S. has the potential to be a global leader for aquaculture production. However, our potential will remain untapped unless and until federal action is taken to clarify the permitting process. SATS applauds Senators Wicker, Schatz and Rubio for working across party lines to bring awareness and encourage debate in Congress on the topic of expanding domestic aquaculture,” DiMento concluded.
Tony Dal Ponte, vice president of SATS and general counsel at Pacific Seafood, said that “expanding domestic aquaculture can help give a much-needed boost to the American economy. A clear, predictable regulatory framework will benefit not just the seafood industry, but also the coastal communities who rely on it to support their local economies and provide stable, year-round employment opportunities.”
“Hawaii leads the nation in modern and traditional aquaculture practices,” said Senator Schatz. “With this bipartisan bill, we can expand aquaculture opportunities, opening suitable federal waters for responsible growers. It will create new jobs, spur economic growth in our coastal communities, and ensure our oceans are managed sustainably now and in the future.”
The companion bill for The AQUAA Act in the U.S. House, H.R. 6191, was introduced by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D, MN-7) and Congressman Steven Palazzo (R, MS-4) in March 2020. The AQUAA Act complements the Presidential Executive Order on American Seafood Competitiveness, which outlines a process for developing Aquaculture Opportunity Areas in federal waters, a key to supporting a domestic offshore aquaculture industry.