California Democratic Rep. Alan Lowenthal has introduced a bill asking for more study of offshore aquaculture in the United States.
The SEAfood Act, which was endorsed last week by the Washington DC-based nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), would require the US Government Accountability Office to produce a report detailing permitting, monitoring, and regulatory options for governing offshore aquaculture in the United States.
It would also task the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with creating an offshore aquaculture assessment program to gain data from on-the-water demonstration projects.
Similar requests have been made in the long-stalled Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act, which aims to provide a federal framework for permitting and regulating US offshore aquaculture.
EDF told IntraFish in May it has not taken a position on AQUAA but believes more work is needed on the bill. AQUAA lacks some of the requirements EDF is calling for in the new SEAfood Act.
For example, the SEAfood Act also directs the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to study the most effective and efficient methods for regulating offshore aquaculture.
Another unique part of the SEAfood legislation would also require NOAA to create a grant program for minority-serving institutions to establish aquaculture centers of excellence to develop or enhance undergraduate and graduate aquaculture curriculum in the United States.
Julie Kuchepatov, founder of Seafood and Gender Equality, lauded the inclusion of the program.
“We must invest in individuals from historically excluded groups, as they are integral to our communities and economies,” she said.