Sen­a­tor in bid to ad­vance US aqua­cul­ture

Fish Farmer - - World News -

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 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.

Above: Roger Wicker

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