A new organization of aquaculture industry stakeholders has formed a coalition to improve the domestic aquaculture industry in the United States.

The Coalition of U.S. Seafood Producers (CUSP) debuted at the 2014 Aquaculture Americas Conference in Seattle.

The group, made up of aquaculture and feed producers, retail and restaurant customers, researchers, technology and feed suppliers, and public aquariums, aims to provide expertise and support of government action that will create growth in aquaculture development.

"We believe establishing relationships and building connections among soy, aquaculture and seafood value chain stakeholders is crucial to helping aquaculture catch on," said Steven Hart, the executive director of the Indiana-based Soy Aquaculture Alliance, one of the Coalition's founding organizations. "This is imperative, as wild-capture fish production cannot sustainably meet the rising global demand for seafood in the decades ahead."

The group plans to pursue three primary goals:

• Specific efforts in support of legislative and administrative government action

• Coordination of education and communications efforts

• Development of concepts for aquaculture pilot projects that are economically sustainable at a commercial scale.

Specific examples of what CUSP plans to do include lobbying for finalization of the Fishery Management Plan for Regulating Offshore Marine Aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico; reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Act, which regulates NOAA's activities related to aquaculture and including aquaculture as a "specialty crop" in the next Farm Bill to qualify for agriculture department programs.

Hart said CUSP will help fill a need to drum up awareness of the industry's needs in Washington.

"As a group, we're not doing enough to ask for aquaculture development," he said. "Congress says they've never heard of the need before."

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