Stronger America Through Seafood sends letter to Congress in support of AQUAA Act
Stronger America Through Seafood (SATS) has sent a letter signed by more than 65 supporters of aquaculture – including leaders in the U.S. seafood harvesting, production, and retail sectors – to Congress, requesting support for aquaculture expansion in the U.S.
The letter, sent on Monday, 14 February to both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, calls for support for the “Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture Act,” or “AQUAA Act.” An updated version of the AQUAA Act was recently introduced by U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Marco Rubio (R-Florida); and U.S. Representatives Ed Case (D-Hawaii) and Steve Palazzo (R-Mississippi).
The AQUAA Act would establish a more strealined process of permitting marine aquaculture and create a national framework for aquaculture development. A version of the bill was submitted to the U.S. Senate in November 2021 – for the third time since 2018.
SATS claims the bill will create jobs and close the U.S. seafood import gap. Currently, the U.S. imports 90 percent of the seafood it consumes, and is ranked sixteenth globally in farmed seafood production.
“As a result, our seafood trade deficit is USD 14 billion [EUR 12.3 billion] and growing,” the letter states. “Expanding American aquaculture production can help close this gap with the added economic benefits of job creation, investment in coastal communities, expanded markets for wild-caught seafood and new markets for American-farmed feed ingredients like soybeans, corn, and peas.”
The administration of then-U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order in May 2020 that also called an expansion of domestic aquaculture. The order included the identification of “aquaculture opportunity areas, a reduction of barriers to permitting, and increased transparency in the permitting process for aquaculture projects.
According to the SATS letter, NOAA’s efforts to find opportunity areas for aquaculture and the AQUAA Act will combine to boost the country’s aquaculture sector.
“In conjunction with the AQUAA Act, the efforts of NOAA will help build out a sustainable U.S. aquaculture sector slowly over time, which is a key factor in encouraging environmental sustainability,” the letter said.
SATS has previously expressed its support for previous iterations of the bill.
“At a time when supply chain challenges and a global pandemic are slowing the delivery of seafood to America’s storefronts and kitchens, the expansion of American aquaculture is an opportunity to try to solve these problems” SATS Campaign Manager Sara Brenholt said in December. “Federal lawmakers have an opportunity to help increase U.S. production of healthful, sustainable, and affordable seafood while also addressing the food security needs of all Americans. As the global population grows, the U.S. must lead the charge in aquaculture development using scientific best practices for the most environmentally sound manner of food production.”
Photo courtesy of W. Scott McGill/Shutterstock