On December 14, 2021, Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) and Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii) introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to support the development of an offshore aquaculture industry in the United States. The bipartisan bill, the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate in October 2021, would increase production of sustainable seafood through the raising of fish in federal waters.
The legislation would establish national standards for offshore aquaculture and clarify a regulatory system for the farming of fish in the U.S. exclusive economic zone. 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.
“For decades we have pursued the promise of open ocean aquaculture as part of our larger goal of sustainable management of our marine resources,” said Rep. Case in a statement. “States like Hawaii have led the way in developing sustainable and safe aquaculture in state waters, but development in federal waters throughout our Exclusive Economic Zone has been hampered by a confusing and often contradicting regulatory scheme that does not sufficiently protect our marine environment. Our bipartisan, bicameral AQUAA Act would provide a consistent efficient regulatory umbrella to help fully unlock the potential of open ocean aquaculture in a sustainable, environmentally sensitive and science-based way and grow economies for coastal states and food security for the nation.”
The companion bill in the U.S. Senate was formerly introduced by senators Wicker, Schatz, and Rubio. As a response to a Presidential Executive Order in May 2020, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently identified 19 areas in Gulf of Mexico and off California that would make ideal sites for offshore aquaculture.