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Palazzo case files latest version of AQUAA law in US House of Representatives

A push to develop marine aquaculture in the United States garnered further support on Tuesday, December 14 with the tabling of the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture Act (AQUAA).

U.S. Representative Stephen Palazzo (R-Mississippi) and U.S. Representative Edward Case (D-Hawaii) are the sponsors of the House version of the bill. Their bill would create a national framework for aquaculture development and streamline the regulatory process needed to approve such projects.

A Senate version of the bill was tabled on October 28, led by American senses Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). Wicker has tabled similar bills in the previous two sessions of Congress, as has Palazzo and former U.S. Representative Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota).

In a statement, Palazzo said America was suffering from over-reliance on imports to meet the country’s seafood needs.

“Coastal states and communities, like southern Mississippi, have the advantage of knowing where their seafood is coming from when ordering at a local restaurant,” he said. “Many other states in our country are not that fortunate. “

The bill would allow developments in the country’s exclusive economic zone, which is only exceeded by France in terms of size. Despite this, the United States ranked 17th in the world in 2018 in terms of aquaculture production, according to data from NOAA Fisheries.

Case noted that Hawaii and other states have been successful in allowing fish farms in state waters, but that “confusing and often contradictory” regulations from many federal agencies have hampered similar efforts in federal waters.

“Our bipartite and bicameral AQUAA law would provide an effective and coherent regulatory framework to help unlock the full potential of high seas aquaculture in a sustainable, environmentally sound and science-based way and develop state economies. coastal and food security for the nation, ”Case said in a statement.

Critics of the legislation have expressed concern that the expansion of aquaculture could threaten wild fishing and the environment by polluting the waters near fish farms and reducing the areas where boats can catch fish.

Sara Brenholt, campaign manager for pro-aquaculture group Stronger America Through Seafood, said in a statement that the growth of the aquaculture industry will help the U.S. seafood market.

“At a time when supply chain challenges and a global pandemic are slowing the delivery of seafood to American storefronts and kitchens, the expansion of American aquaculture is an opportunity to try and address these issues. Brenholt said. “Federal lawmakers have the opportunity to help increase American production of healthy, sustainable and affordable seafood while meeting the food security needs of all Americans. As the world’s population grows, the United States must lead the charge in developing aquaculture using best scientific practices for the most environmentally friendly way of food production. “

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons