Coastwide
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USA - Congress Urged to Back AQUAA Act

Over 80 US organisations, including a wide range of leading seafood firms, have written to Washington in support of expanding the country’s seafood production through sustainable offshore aquaculture.

In September Senators Roger Wicker, Brian Schatz and Marco Rubio introduced bipartisan legislation to advance American aquaculture development. The Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act, which has companion legislation in the House, complements a recent executive order on seafood competitiveness and supports the development of an offshore aquaculture industry in US federal waters.

The letter, sent yesterday, argues for Congress to lend force to the draft legislation, stating that it will lead to economic improvements for both the country’s seafood and agriculture sectors, as well as increase food security.

The letter states that: “Congress has a unique opportunity to build an American seafood future that can bring us through this challenging time and support a diverse workforce, enhance sustainable ecosystems and guarantee healthful, locally-sourced protein for American consumers while providing opportunities for other US industries, including the agriculture industry, is a critical first step towards supporting sustainable marine aquaculture, and the future of US seafood production.

However, the authors continue, it is the regulatory vacuum that is principally holding the sector back.

“More than half of all seafood consumed today is farmed. While commercial fishing and wild harvest are and always will be an important part of the seafood supply chain, aquaculture is the fastest growing food production sector in the world and is responsible for nearly all global supply growth since the 1990s. But, at present, the US lags far behind the rest of the world in farmed seafood production. The single biggest reason for that is the lack of a clear regulatory pathway for permitting new projects, a challenging reality that has forced many American businesses to invest in other countries.”

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