A photo of a fish pen being towed, taken from the cover of the EDF's poll report.

US voters support research-led aquaculture expansion, says green group


More than three-quarters of people who took part in a poll of United States voters support researching the expansion of open ocean aquaculture off the US coast, non-profit organisation the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has announced.

The EDF said 76% of 800 registered voters polled in New York state, Florida, coastal California, and coastal Texas, backed the research plan, which is included in the Science-based Equitable Aquaculture Food (SEAfood) Act being promoted in Congress, and favour expanding seafood farming into the open ocean off the US coast.

Eighty-two percent of voters said that research can help ensure the safety of the seafood they consume.

Follow the science

The poll builds on a previous EDF poll from 2021 that revealed voters are open to consuming more farmed seafood if it is produced in the US and is subject to strong environmental and consumer standards.

Kate Bonzon: "It is clear that voters want to see research".

“The findings give us greater clarity on the concerns and information voters need about aquaculture before they feel comfortable showing support for it,” said Kate Bonzon, vice president of climate resilient fisheries and oceans at EDF. “The US should follow the science and invest in the research necessary to ensure open ocean aquaculture is done right from the start.”

Most voters polled place the economy at the top of their concerns with 62% saying that they are “very concerned” with the economy and 76% being “very concerned” about their own cost of living, said EDF. Voters see the potential for aquaculture to mitigate economic issues, and largely agree that doing the research to understand how to do aquaculture sustainably in US open ocean waters will expand economic opportunity.

A high bar

“The US could set a high bar for aquaculture sustainability standards, much like they have done for fisheries management, and it is clear that voters want to see research as the foundation for these standards,” said Bonzon. “Leading with science puts the US in a better position to meet consumer demand, support local economies and livelihoods, complement our fisheries, and produce low-carbon food.”

The poll’s findings can be found here.

The EDF is a pragmatic green organisation known for its work on issues including global warming, ecosystem restoration, oceans, and human health. Founded in 1967, it advocates using sound science, economics and law to find environmental solutions that work. It is nonpartisan, and its work often advocates market-based solutions to environmental problems.