US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order that aims to boost the domestic seafood industry by streamlining aquaculture development and "cutting red tape" on the fisheries sector.
Trump's order calls for the creation of a Seafood Trade Task Force, which will include the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture and Homeland Security; the director of Office of Management and Budget, the administrator of NOAA, the the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and other top administration officials.
That task force has 90 days to provide recommendations to the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
The order largely details how offshore aquaculture projects can now be set up with NOAA as the lead agency.
Within a year, the president is asking the US Secretary of Commerce and fisheries agencies to identify at least two areas suitable for commercial aquaculture, and complete environmental impact statements (EIS) for the sites within two years after they're identified.
Controversial measures to allow offshore aquaculture in the United States have been crawling through Congress for decades without much action.
Seafood lobbyist Margaret Henderson, who leads Stronger America Through Seafood, a multi-stakeholder group that has pushed for aquaculture development, hailed the order.
"It's super favorable for the entire seafood production sector, wild-capture and aquaculture," Henderson told IntraFish.
It states of aquaculture projects "that require environmental review or authorization by two or more agencies" for reviews to be completed in two years. It also outlines potential for a United States Army Corps of Engineers nationwide permit authorizing finfish aquaculture in offshore waters.
The executive order also focuses on promoting domestic seafood.
“Despite America’s bountiful aquatic resources, by weight our nation imports over 85 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States,” it reads.
“At the same time, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing undermines the sustainability of American and global seafood stocks, negatively affects general ecosystem health, and unfairly competes with the products of law-abiding fishermen and seafood industries around the world.”
The order states the US Secretary of Commerce will give regional fishery management councils 180 days to submit "a prioritized list of recommended actions to reduce burdens on domestic fishing and to increase production within sustainable fisheries, including a proposal for initiating each recommended action within 1 year of the date of this order."