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Palazzo and Peterson Introduce Bill to Advance Aquaculture in the United States

Washington, DC - Representative Steven Palazzo (MS-4) and Representative Collin Peterson, Chair of the House Agriculture Committee, introduced H.R. 6191, the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture Act or the AQUAA Act today to increase the United States’ involvement in the production of healthy, sustainable, and affordable seafood.
“The United States imports nearly 90% of our seafood, and of that, more than half is produced through foreign aquaculture without domestic oversight," said Palazzo. "The AQUAA Act streamlines the federal permitting process to usher in a wave of American aquaculture and reduce our dependency on foreign seafood imports while we grow a sustainable market. Food security is national security and, we must work to ensure America is prepared to meet the needs of tomorrow’s food demand.”

“Aquaculture is a fast-growing agriculture industry that is creating jobs and improving our country’s food security,” said Peterson. “It also creates a market for soybeans as they provide nutritious aquafeed. Our bill will streamline the permitting process and build upon research and development efforts that are underway.

With a growing population and an ever-increasing demand for seafood, it is clear that as of right now, the United States does not produce enough seafood to meet domestic demand. Expanding aquaculture in the United States has the potential to create new jobs, high-quality foods, and new markets for agricultural products like soybeans.
Unfortunately, U.S. aquaculture is currently constrained by disjointed federal leadership and numerous regulatory hurdles, including overlapping jurisdiction of federal, state and local governments, and the absence of an efficient and affordable permitting process, particularly in U.S. federal waters.
The AQUAA Act establishes an Office of Marine Aquaculture within the National Marine Fisheries Service at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) headquarters and regional offices to lead coordinating the federal permitting process. The legislation also establishes a permitting process to allow individuals time to secure financing for aquaculture operation while making no changes to current environmental standards, but instead upholding and maintaining existing standards. Additionally, the AQUAA Act authorizes expanded aquaculture research and development authorities at USDA.
The AQUAA Act has strong support from domestic seafood producers and soybean producers, and others within agriculture.
Dr. Kelly Lucas, Director of the Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center in the School of Ocean Science and Engineering at the University of Southern Mississippi 
“To create a sustainable food future, meet the growing demand for seafood and increase food production to supply a growing population we need to develop offshore marine farming and facilitate investment in U.S. aquaculture. This bill creates the opportunity to advance aquaculture in the U.S. by providing regulatory certainty for businesses while adopting national standards that safeguard the environment.”

Pilar Cruz, president of Cargill’s aqua nutrition business
“We’ve been very pleased with the work that Chairman Peterson and Representative Palazzo have undertaken to develop and introduce the AQUAA Act. This legislation could provide much-needed regulatory certainty for U.S. marine farmers while also preserving the environment, local economies and public health. Cargill also believes this bill can support U.S. farmers through increased production of aqua feed using U.S. soybeans. Legislation like the AQUAA Act will lead to increased U.S. seafood production that benefits all Americans.”

American Soybean Association President Bill Gordon from Worthington, Minnesota
“Aquaculture off the U.S. coastline provides economic opportunity for soybean farmers, as well as coastal communities and workers, not to mention a safe and affordable supply of seafood. ASA applauds Chairman Peterson’s leadership in recognizing the untapped potential of a domestic aquaculture industry.”
 Jamie Beyer, president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association
“Minnesota soybean farmers appreciate Rep. Peterson’s work on the AQUAA Act. Growing the U.S. aquaculture industry provides our farmers the opportunity to grow the high-protein, renewable food source for this market while protecting our oceans from being overfished for fish meal.”
Bill DiMento, president of Stronger America Through Seafood (SATS) and vice president of Corporate Sustainability and Government Affairs at High Liner Foods
“For the American seafood industry to remain competitive and increase the production of healthful and sustainable seafood, federal action is needed to establish a predictable regulatory framework and National Standards to expand aquaculture production in the United States. SATS applauds Reps. Peterson and Palazzo for their leadership in bringing awareness and education and encouraging debate and discussion in Congress on the topic of expanding American aquaculture.”
Paul Damhof, owner of Simply Shrimp, Blomkest, Minnesota
"Simply Shrimp supports the AQUAA Act as an opportunity to shape the future of aquaculture for the betterment of the industry and the environment.  We need this.  Thanks to Rep. Peterson for leading the effort to create research and development opportunities to expand the domestic markets of American-grown shrimp."
Michael Ziebell, CEO & President of The tru Shrimp Company, Balaton, Minnesota -
"With the world population expected to increase by 2 billion people by 2050, the need for new innovative, sustainable protein solutions has never been more urgent.  The tru Shrimp Company supports the AQUAA Act as a critical step in the development, growth, and the success of an aquaculture industry across the United States. This industry is poised to advance food safety, produce jobs in rural communities, and mitigate the U.S. seafood trade deficit, currently over $16 billion as reported by NOAA.  Thank you, Rep. Peterson, for bringing this legislation forward."