Survey finds voters support expanding US aquaculture

Published on
June 7, 2022
A Cooke Aquaculture salmon farming operation.

A survey commissioned by Stronger America Through Seafood (SATS) found a strong majority of likely voters would support lawmakers expanding opportunities for offshore fish farms.

The survey, cundected by Echelon Insights and released on 6 June, was conducted in May 2022 and surveyed 1,020 people nationwide. According to the results, more than 60 percent of respondents said they would be more favorable toward their U.S. representative if they backed legislation to increase access to offshore waters for American businesses.

That support is nearly even across party lines, with 65 percent of Republican voters and 67 percent of Democratic voters backing increased aquaculture.

The survey results were released a day before SATS started its three-day fly-in to Washington on 7 June as part of Capitol Hill Ocean Week.

“Now is the time for Congress to act and put in place federal policies that would establish an aquaculture industry in U.S. federal waters – and the majority of voters agree," SATS Campaign Manager Sarah Brenholt said in a statement. "As SATS members meet with congressional offices this week during Capitol Hill Oceans Week, we will continue to urge Congress to act swiftly to put a clear regulatory pathway in place for American aquaculture."

When given additional information about aquaculture, such as that it could lead to 50,000 new jobs and provide additional opportunities for farmers, 87 percent of those polled responded that they believe expanding aquaculture is important. When told that up to 80 percent of seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported, 86 percent said they believe it’s important to expand the industry.

The margin of error for the survey is 3.7 percent.

Supporters for expanding aquaculture cite a myriad of regulations and agencies as impediments to its growth. Despite having the second largest exclusive economic zone in the world, the U.S. aquaculture industry does not even produce 1 percent of the fish harvested through aquaculture.

A bipartisan group of legislators in both the U.S. House and Senate  filed the AQUAA Act, that would streamline the regulatory process for companies interested in developing offshore fish farms.

Photo courtesy of Cooke Aquaculture

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