See below the press release (26.06.2018) from U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss); followed by that of Friends of the Earth, critical of the Bill.
Wicker Introduces Bill to Advance American Aquaculture
Legislation Would Streamline Permitting Process and Fund Research and Development
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today [NB: 26.06.2018] introduced the “Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act.” The legislation would streamline the permitting process for aquaculture farms in federal waters, and fund research and development to advance the aquaculture industry. The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
“Aquaculture is the fastest-growing sector of the agriculture industry,” Wicker said. “This bill would give farmers a clear, simplified regulatory path to start new businesses in our coastal communities. The AQUAA Act would also fund needed research to continue the growth and success of this important industry.”
Aquaculture refers to the farming of fish and plants in water for food. Over 90 percent of the seafood in the United States is imported, 50 percent of which is derived from aquaculture. Currently, the United States does not have a comprehensive, nationwide permitting system for marine aquaculture in federal waters, and there are no aquaculture farms in federal waters.
The AQUAA Act would establish an Office of Marine Aquaculture within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which would be charged with coordinating the federal permitting process. Additionally, a permit would be established through NOAA that would give an individual the security of tenure necessary to secure financing for an aquaculture operation.
The legislation would also maintain environmental standards and fund research and extension services to support the growth of aquaculture in the United States.
Source: U.S. Senator Roger Wicker PR (26.06.2018) https://www.wicker.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2018/6/wicker-introduces-bill-to-advance-american-aquaculture
Friends of the Earth (FoE) PR (27.06.2018):
Senate bill attacks U.S. fisheries and oceans policy
The Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act would bring floating factory farms to the U.S.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) introduced a bill late yesterday that would allow the federal government to permit industrial ocean fish farming in the United States.
The AQUAA Act will improperly place the new program under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act — a law that has historically preserved our ocean ecosystems and protected wild fish stocks. Wicker’s bill already faces staunch opposition, including a broad coalition of more than 100 organizations, consisting of commercial and recreational fishing groups, indigenous populations and consumer advocacy, food, farming and conservation organizations.
Hallie Templeton, Senior Oceans Campaigner for Friends of the Earth, issued the following response:
Congress is devastating our oceans, coastal communities and marine-reliant industries. The legitimization of industrial ocean aquaculture in our waters will wreak havoc on ocean ecosystems and marine life. Introducing this harmful industry to our waterways will endanger sustainable fishing communities and introduce risks to both wild fish species and consumers.
The AQUAA Act affords no meaningful protections to the environment or our fishing industries. Instead, it allows corporations to commercialize and destroy our ocean ecosystems. Congress should support sustainable wild-caught fishing and seafood production methods. With sound policy, we can meet consumer demand without devastating our planet or harming local fishing economies.
For more information on the legislation and a breakdown of recent industrial ocean fish farm disasters, please see Friends of the Earth’s recent blog.