Bipartisan offshore aquaculture bill reintroduced in U.S. Senate

New legislation was introduced to support the expansion of sustainable aquaculture in the U.S. communities.

June 12, 2023

Senators Roger Wicker and Brian Schatz joined together to re-introduce the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act in the U.S. Senate.

The bipartisan AQUAA Act would establish national standards for offshore aquaculture and clarify a regulatory system for the farming of fish in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The bill would also establish a research and technology grant program to fund innovative research and extension services focused on improving and advancing sustainable domestic aquaculture. The introduction of the AQUAA Act follows the White House’s Ocean Climate Action Plan issued in March that calls for the expansion of sustainable U.S. aquaculture production.

“Now is the time for Congress to act to support the expansion of American aquaculture offshore,” said Drue Banta Winters, campaign manager of Stronger America Through Seafood (SATS). ”As one of the most environmentally friendly forms of protein production, aquaculture will ensure American food security by increasing our supply of healthful and affordable seafood sustainably. Communities across America would benefit, creating new job opportunities for American workers throughout the U.S. supply chain, including for fish farmers, feed producers and manufacturers, and seafood processors, as well as for American farmers of crops that can be used in fish feed, such as corn, soybeans, peas and more.”

Senator Wicker said that “the aquaculture industry is growing rapidly, but the lack of a national permitting system for federal waters has held back development and prevented American producers from growing more seafood at home. This legislation would establish comprehensive standards for offshore aquaculture, helping U.S. producers meet the growing demand for fresh, locally-sourced seafood.”

The U.S. ranks only 17th in aquaculture production. Of the total $281.5 billion global aquaculture market, the U.S. is valued at $1.5 billion or 0.5%, and therefore imports up to 80% of the seafood we consume.