aquaculture act in Canada

A new chapter for aquaculture in the US

Proposed US legislation is similar to calls for a Federal Aquaculture Act in Canada

By Fabian Dawson

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, (R-Miss. pictured), has introduced a bill that would streamline the permitting process for aquaculture farms in American waters.

The bill is similar to calls in Canada for a Federal Aquaculture Act that will provide a modern legal framework for managing the aquaculture sector.

The American bill – “Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act” aims to 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.

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 push for a Federal Aquaculture Act in Canada was mooted by businesses in Campbell River, BC, earlier this year.

Campbell River, which prides itself as the Salmon Capital of the World, urged both the B.C. government and Ottawa to provide fair access to long term tenures for the aquaculture industry.

In a policy document the Chamber stated the development of a Federal Aquaculture Act, will establish national environmental standards and clarify industry responsibilities.

“Appropriate legislation would recognize in law the long-standing reality of aquaculture as a legitimate caretaker of Canada’s aquatic resources, the Chamber said.

“It would support efforts to ensure a modern industry and build on an already impressive record of safety and sustainability.

“The introduction of this legislation could help facilitate the currently ad hoc regulatory changes coming forward from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and would enable Canada to realize its full potential, creating new jobs and expanding opportunity in an industry that can be socially, economically and environmentally sustainable,” the Chamber said.