(Washington DC-) Representative Collin Peterson, Chair of the House Agriculture Committee, and Representative Steven Palazzo (MS-4) 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.

“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.

“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.”

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.

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."