US seafood companies, including Red Lobster, Pacific Seafoods, High Liner, Cargill, Seattle Fish Company and Fortune International, have written to US President Joe Biden urging his administration to continue the pro-aquaculture activities of his predecessor.
The members, who are part of the seafood advocacy group Stronger America Through Seafood (SATS), are requesting a meeting with Biden's "Climate and/or Oceans Policy teams in the very near future," they said in a letter written to Biden Thursday.
Last summer, former President Donald Trump signed an executive order that, among other things, aimed to boost the domestic seafood industry by streamlining aquaculture development offshore, a pipe dream of the industry for decades.
Last year, his administration also implemented the Seafood Trade Task Force as part of the same effort. The task force under Trump was announced to include the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture and Homeland Security; the director of Office of Management and Budget; the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); the the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and other top administration officials.
"For the US to continue to expand the aquaculture industry and tap into the full economic and environmental potential that aquaculture can provide, we ask that you continue the work of numerous previous administrations, both Republican and Democrat, who sought to clarify aquaculture regulatory and management activities across federal agencies," the letter stated.
It is not clear how Biden's administration will tackle the issue of aquaculture development in the United States. Although Biden has issued executive orders that could impact commercial fishing in federal waters, the administration has not announced how it will continue the Trump administration's agenda of expanding domestic aquaculture.
Seafood lobbyist Margaret Henderson, who leads Stronger America Through Seafood, a multi-stakeholder group that has pushed for aquaculture development, told IntraFish the seafood task force and Trump's executive order should not be impacted by the new administration.
"One of SATS’ objectives, as detailed in our letter to President Biden, is to seek his support for federal policies that prioritize sustainable seafood production, including current law and any future legislation or law," she said.
She added SATS will also be advocating for the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act, which has been sitting idle in Congress since 2018, largely due to a lack of support.
"One of the biggest opportunities for aquaculture in 2021 will be highlighting the unique nexus between aquaculture, particularly offshore aquaculture, and its many benefits to both human health, the economy and our global environment," Henderson said.
"The Biden Administration is extremely focused on addressing the climate emergency. The aquaculture industry must be at the forefront of any policy discussions to educate policymakers on the need for pro-aquaculture measures, like the bipartisan AQUAA Act, that can increase domestic protein production with minimal climate/environment impacts."