WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today convened a hearing to discuss the state of offshore aquaculture in the United States and the potential economic benefits of expanded domestic seafood production.
“America imports over 90 percent of the seafood we consume. Simply put, there is not enough fresh, healthy, and local seafood produced in the United States to meet consumer demand,” Wicker said in his opening statement to the committee.
Wicker discussed how Mississippi’s farm-raised catfish industry has contributed to meeting Americans’ demands for more fresh, local seafood. He also highlighted how Mississippians are using aquaculture to restore oyster reefs, replenish stocks for sportfishing, and even grow seaweed for biofuels.
Wicker also announced his intention to reintroduce his legislation to improve domestic seafood production. The “Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture Act” (AQUAA Act) would direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to streamline the federal permitting process for aquaculture, effectively organizing a currently fragmented regulatory system.
“My legislation would create a set of national standards for sustainable aquaculture, similar to the standards set by the Magnuson-Stevens Act,” Wicker said. “Because of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the U.S. has the best managed fisheries in the world. We should lead the world in aquaculture management.”
The witnesses at today’s hearing included:
- Ms. Linda Cornish, Founder and President, Seafood Nutrition Partnership
- Dr. Paul Doremus, Deputy Assistant Administrator of Operations, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Dr. Ben Halpern, Director, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, University of California Santa Barbara
- Mr. Jay Julius, Chairman, Lummi Nation
- Ms. Kathryn Unger, Managing Director, CQN North America, Cargill Aqua Nutrition
For more information on today’s hearing, click here.