Submersible cages supplied by Innovasea for offshore farming.

US fish farming group launches fresh push with lawmakers

Aquaculture industry coalition Stronger America Through Seafood (SATS) is this week hosting a “legislative fly-in” during which seafood industry representatives will meet with congressional offices in the US House of Representatives and Senate to advocate for the expansion of the country’s fish farming industry through offshore aquaculture.

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“The expansion of aquaculture is an opportunity to address many of the challenges we face – from increasing our supply of seafood in a sustainable manner, to supporting economic growth,” said SATS campaign manager Sarah Brenholt in a press release.

“As we face supply chain challenges, rising inflation, and the effects of climate change on wild fish stocks, now is the time for federal lawmakers to put in place federal policies that would create a thriving American aquaculture industry. Through our legislative fly-in, the seafood community looks forward to raising further awareness of and educating lawmakers on the opportunities that aquaculture would provide communities across the country.”

Lagging behind

While aquaculture is the fastest-growing food production sector globally, the US ranks just 16th in aquaculture production and imports up to 85% of its seafood – mainly from Asia and Europe.

SATS argues that the lack of a clear and predictable policy framework for permitting offshore aquaculture deters investment in the US and hinders growth of an American industry. Federal legislation is needed to correct this problem and put in place a policy framework that creates a thriving US aquaculture industry.

Current legislation in Congress, The AQUAA Act, which has bipartisan support in both the US House of Representatives and Senate, would establish national standards for offshore aquaculture and clarify a regulatory system for the farming of fish in the US exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Safe and sustainable

Participants from across the seafood supply chain are attending the SATS fly-in, which runs from April 26-28. Companies include feed supplier Cargill, equipment supplier Innovasea, and animal health company Merck.

“I’m looking forward to once again meeting face-to-face with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to emphasise how vital aquaculture is to the United States in terms of food security and economic development,” said David Kelly, chief executive of Boston-based Innovasea.

“Fish Farming is a safe, sustainable way to provide protein to our growing population and presents a massive opportunity for this country to create good jobs and reduce our reliance on seafood imports – if we can simplify our cumbersome permitting processes to encourage more investment in the industry.”