The Trump administration signed a new executive order promoting American seafood competitiveness and economic growth. This new executive order will propel the U.S. forward as a seafood superpower by strengthening the American economy, improving the competitiveness of American industry, ensuring food security, providing environmentally safe and sustainable seafood, supporting American workers, and ensuring coordinated and transparent federal actions.
Specifically, the executive order calls for the expansion of sustainable U.S. seafood production through more efficient and predictable aquaculture permitting, cutting-edge research and development, regulatory reform to maximize commercial fishing, and enforcement of common-sense restrictions on seafood imports that do not meet American standards.
As part of this effort, the Department of Commerce will co-chair a newly-established Seafood Trade Task Force and will work closely with interagency partners to develop a comprehensive interagency seafood trade strategy that identifies opportunities to improve access to foreign markets through trade policy and negotiations, resolves technical barriers to U.S. seafood exports, and otherwise supports fair market access for U.S. seafood products.
In addition, the Secretary of Commerce announced the allocation of $300 million in fisheries assistance funding provided by Sec. 12005 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also called the CARES Act, to states, tribes, and territories with coastal and marine fishery participants who have been negatively affected by COVID–19. Privately owned aquaculture businesses growing products in state or federal marine waters of the United States and the hatcheries that supply them may be eligible for these assistance funds. This includes all molluscan shellfish and marine algae as well as non-salmonid marine finfish grown in marine waters not covered by USDA.
The 2020 COVID-19 crisis has created a turning point in the way the seafood industry does business and, in addition to other efforts and financial support, this executive order and the funding available through the CARES Act create an exciting new opportunity to address long-term challenges to expand the domestic seafood sector.