ASA is already considered a key player on offshore aquaculture in Congress. ASA will work with Senator Wicker (R-MS) to support re-introduction of the offshore legislation he introduced in the 115th Congress and continue trying to help him find a Democratic co-sponsor. A similar effort will take place in the House, where Collin Peterson (D-MN), current chairman of the Ag Committee, introduced the bill last year and has already indicated interest in holding a hearing in the House Agriculture Committee in 2019.
Additionally, the small group of aquaculture supporters has been engaged in a circular firing squad, fighting among themselves about details of aquaculture legislation. ASA should help to convene a planning session with aquaculture interests that could identify a shared agenda and how to advance it in 2019.
ASA supports implementation of marine aquaculture policies that will lead to development of a domestic offshore aquaculture industry. With foreign aquaculture now accounting for about half of the 91 percent of seafood imported by the United States, development of a domestic industry will create U.S. jobs and meet growing demand for a safe and sustainable source of seafood. According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the world is now eating more farmed fish than wild catches.
ASA welcomes legislation that would remove barriers to offshore aquaculture permitting and development.
Aquaculture is the fastest-growing form of food production in the world, and most of this growth is offshore and overseas. Seafood imports are the second biggest contributor to the U.S. trade deficit – NOAA puts the U.S. trade deficit for seafood at $14 billion. That number is second only to oil. Major aquaculture-exporting nations include China, India, and Vietnam. U.S. aquaculture—both freshwater and marine—supplies about 5 percent of the U.S. seafood supply, and U.S. marine aquaculture supplies less than 1.5 percent.
ASA supports research on plant-based feeds to position soy as the economically viable and environmentally friendlier alternative to fish meal and fish oil. Since 1992, soybean farmers have funded market development activities for soy-based aquaculture diets, primarily in China. This program has increased demand for soybean meal for farm-raised fish from almost zero to an estimated 8 million metric tons annually, contributing to China’s emergence as the largest market for U.S. soybean exports and soy’s role as the largest U.S. agricultural export.
ASA was heartened by the positive response from Senate Commerce Committee members at their January 2018 hearing on “Growing the Future: Opportunities to Support Domestic Seafood through Aquaculture.” Soybean farmers welcome pro-aquaculture legislation to remove barriers to offshore aquaculture permitting and development.
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