WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today introduced the “Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act.” The legislation would streamline the permitting process for aquaculture farms in federal waters, and fund research and development to advance the aquaculture industry. The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
“Aquaculture is the fastest-growing sector of the agriculture industry,” Wicker said. “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.”
Aquaculture refers to the farming of fish and plants in water for food. Over 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.