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Bipartisan aquaculture bill resuscitated in US Senate


January 7, 2022
By Liza Mayer


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Net pens of Blue Ocean Mariculture, the only offshore farm in the United States. The AQUAA Act aims to advance the ‘offshore’ aquaculture sector, defined as ocean waters between three and 200 miles offshore Photo: Blue Ocean Mariculture

A bill introduced way back in 2018 to shore up US aquaculture has been re-introduced to the US Senate this past October. 

Over the past three years, the bill has seen multiple revisions, the latest being the addition in 2019 of a provision to create a National Standard for Aquaculture.

 “AQUAA Act” (short for Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture), as the bill is called, was sponsored by US Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss) to streamline the permitting process in aquaculture in US federal waters.

The legislation would also direct NOAA to harmonize the permitting system for offshore aquaculture for farms in federal waters, and direct the agency to lead an R&D grant program to spur innovation throughout the industry.

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US Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) reintroduced the bipartisan Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act in September 2020, and yet again this past October.

“Marine aquaculture presents an enormous opportunity for Florida’s economy and for the food security of our nation,” Rubio said. “Unfortunately, the absence of a federal permitting and regulatory framework has hindered American aquaculture industries. This bipartisan legislation would establish a transparent permitting process and provide regulatory certainty for this important industry to promote new domestic seafood supply chains.”