US lawmakers reintroduce SEAfood Act to spur offshore aquaculture

A photo of U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace.

U.S. lawmakers last week reintroduced the Science-based Equitable Aquaculture Food (SEAfood) Act, legislation designed to foster and encourage more offshore aquaculture development.

If passed, the legislation would authorize NOAA to establish an offshore aquaculture assessment program and a grant program that would help minority-serving educational institutions create aquaculture centers of excellence. The law would also require the Government Accountability Office, a congressional watchdog organization, to put together a report detailing regulatory requirements for offshore aquaculture, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to conduct a study on the science behind offshore aquaculture regulations.

The bill was introduced by U.S. Representative Nancy Mace (R-South Carolina), with U.S. Representative Jimmy Panetta (D-California) and U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) listed as cosponsors. Former U.S. Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-California) originally introduced the SEAfood Act in the final days of the previous Congress, but the bill never made its way out of committee.

The Coalition for Sustainable Aquaculture praised the legislation, calling it “the only measure in Congress that lays the groundwork for an equitable and inclusive seafood economy of both farmed and wild-caught fish while prioritizing data and science in the development of offshore aquaculture in the U.S.”

“We are grateful for the bipartisan leadership of Representatives Mace and Panetta to advance the growth of aquaculture in U.S. federal waters,” chef and Coalition for Sustainable Aquaculture founding member Andrew Zimmern said. “It’s a responsible, science-based approach that’s good for the economy, for our domestic seafood industry, for our ocean, and for American consumers.”

Lawmakers have introduced several provisions to grow support for aquaculture within the federal government this year. Over the summer, legislators have introduced the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act, which would establish national standards for offshore aquaculture and streamline development, the Sustaining Healthy Ecosystems, Livelihoods, and Local Seafood (SHELLS) Act, which would create a new office of aquaculture within the U.S. Department of Aquaculture, the Supporting Equity for Aquaculture and Seafood (SEAS) Act, which would ensure fair treatment for aquaculture producers within USDA programs, and the Coastal Seaweed Farm Act, which would study the benefits of seaweed farming and provide grants for indigenous communities.

Photo courtesy of the Office of U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace


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