A US senator is championing a new bill aimed at speeding up growth in American aquaculture. Republican Roger Wicker (Mississippi) has introduced the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act.
The legislation is designed to streamline the permitting process for fish farms in federal waters, and fund research and development to advance the aquaculture industry.
The bill is co-sponsored by Florida Republican senator Marco Rubio, who unsuccessfully ran against Donald Trump for the US Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
Sen. Wicker (pictured) said: ‘Aquaculture is the fastest growing sector of the agriculture industry. This bill would give farmers a clear, simplified regulatory path to start new businesses in our coastal communities.
‘The AQUAA Act would also fund needed research to continue the growth and success of this important industry.’
He pointed out that more than 90 per cent of the seafood in the United States is imported, 50 per cent of which is derived from aquaculture.
‘Currently, the United States does not have a comprehensive, nationwide permitting system for marine aquaculture in federal waters, and there are no aquaculture farms in federal waters,’ the senator added.
The AQUAA Act will eventually establish an Office of Marine Aquaculture within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which would be charged with coordinating the federal permitting process.
Additionally, a permit would be established through NOAA that would give the security of tenure necessary to secure financing for an aquaculture operation.
Wicker plans to argue that the legislation would also maintain environmental standards and fund research and extension services to support the growth of aquaculture.