Aquaculture

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Senator introduces bill to ease path for US aquaculture development

There are currently no aquaculture farms in federal waters.

US Senator Roger Wicker introduced a new bill Tuesday, designed to ease the path for permitting in federal waters and research and development for the US aquaculture industry.

The Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act is co-sponsored by US Senator Marco Rubio, Florida.

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“Aquaculture is the fastest-growing sector of the agriculture industry,” said Wicker. “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.”

More than 90 percent of the seafood in the United States is imported, 50 percent 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 AQUAA Act would 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 an individual the security of tenure necessary to secure financing for an aquaculture operation.

The legislation would also maintain environmental standards and fund research and extension services to support the growth of aquaculture in the United States.

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