New US legislation to benefit offshore aquaculture

Photo: NOAA Fisheries

The US House of Representatives recently introduced a new bipartisan measure with the goal of ensuring the sustainability of fish farming activities conducted in offshore waters, international non-profit Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has confirmed.

The EDF said the Science-based Equitable Aquaculture Food Act (SEAfood Act) is the only measure in Congress that lays the groundwork for an equitable and inclusive seafood economy of both farmed and wild-caught fish while prioritising data and science in the development of offshore aquaculture in the US.

The SEAfood Act will:


  • Charge the Government Accountability Office to produce a report detailing permitting, monitoring, and regulatory options for governing offshore aquaculture in the US.
  • Direct the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to complete a study on the scientific basis for efficient and effective regulation of offshore aquaculture.
  • Authorise the NOAA to create an offshore aquaculture assessment program to gain data from on-the-water demonstration projects that close significant knowledge gaps necessary to determine strong, science-based standards.
  • Create a grant program, under the NOAA, for minority-serving institutions to establish aquaculture centres of excellence to develop or enhance undergraduate and graduate aquaculture curriculum to meet the needs of a growing, domestic, and sustainable aquaculture industry and supply chains, and for career development and extension programs.

The EDF said the development of offshore aquaculture can help meet the growing demand for seafood and add stability to the domestic seafood supply chain. However, the US currently lacks a federal regulatory framework and the requisite strong standards needed for sustainable, equitable, and profitable offshore aquaculture.

The SEAfood Act catalyses studies to assess the best ways to minimise the risks of developing aquaculture in federal offshore waters and close knowledge gaps needed to develop the right regulatory standards, the EDF added.

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