The Stronger America Through Seafood (SATS) advocacy trade group has launched its new "Essential Aquaculture' campaign urging Congress to support domestic aquaculture efforts, including offshore aquaculture.
The campaign aims to "support the expansion of essential aquaculture in the US in order to establish a vibrant American seafood future," according to SATs.
Campaign materials, including a fact sheet, social media shareables and an infographic, outline how "essential aquaculture" is a solution to food security, conservation and US jobs. SATS said the campaign is part of its effort to have Congress facilitate the expansion of fish farming in US federal waters by clarifying aquaculture regulatory and management activities across federal agencies.
It remains unclear whether an expansive executive order issued by former president Donald Trump outlining measures to streamline fisheries regulations and promote the domestic offshore aquaculture industry will be followed under the Biden Administration.
Ocean Era's offshore aquaculture project set to be located off the Florida coast has hit a snag under the new administration. In March, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Appeals Board judge ruled the project needed to be put on hold in part because of Biden's order to review past executive actions taken by Trump.
Seafood lobbyist Margaret Henderson, who has been coordinating SATS, told IntraFish last November that offshore aquaculture was receiving strong bipartisan support in both the US House and Senate.
While projects such as Velella Epsilon continue to encounter opposition, a bill known as the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act remains stalled in Congress.
First introduced in Congress in 2018 and then reintroduced last fall, it seeks to establish an Office of Marine Aquaculture within NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service to streamline the permitting of offshore aquaculture operations, as well as help fund research and extension services for several existing aquaculture priorities.
But so far, the bill remains in the "introduction stage" in both the House and Senate where it was introduced last year, not moving on from the committees it was assigned to. In the Senate it has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. In the House it has been assigned to the Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife.
The SATS is a broad coalition of companies that includes Cargill, Pacific Seafood, Taylor Shellfish, Pontos Aqua Advisory, Sysco, Pentair, High Liner Foods, Red Lobster, Fortune International, Taylor Shellfish, InnovaSea and Beaver Street Fisheries.