Courtesy of Stronger America Through Seafood:
America’s seafood industry is critical to our national economy and seafood supply. According to NOAA, commercial and recreational saltwater fishing generated $253 billion in sales, contributed $117 billion to gross domestic product, and supported 1.7 million jobs across the U.S. seafood supply chain.
But the U.S. seafood supply chain faces pressing challenges – from the growing effects of climate change on wild fish stocks, to ongoing supply chain distributions caused by the pandemic. The expansion of offshore aquaculture, or fish farming, in America would benefit working waterfront communities and help address these challenges.
An American aquaculture industry done properly and sustainably would complement the wild harvest sector to increase our supply of American raised seafood. Today, the U.S. imports up to 80% of its seafood. By increasing domestic production of seafood, we safeguard our food supply and build our coastal economies.
Commercial fishermen would benefit from collaborative aquaculture investments in local communities. An increase in local fish farming businesses would bring much needed investments for portside and coastal infrastructure in waterfront communities, helping to revitalize working waterfronts.
Aquaculture, in complement with wild harvest, will ensure a steady supply of seafood regularly comes into ports, creating new job opportunities and providing an economic engine for coastal communities. The effects of climate change are already impacting wild capture fisheries and will undoubtedly create more disruptions in the seafood industry.
As coastal states seek new ways to revitalize their working waterfronts, aquaculture is an opportunity that should be embraced to create new jobs and generate economic revenue. The expansion of offshore aquaculture would create new opportunities throughout the seafood supply chain in those states, including in seafood processing, retail and more.
Responsible, environmentally friendly offshore aquaculture occurs in many countries, but the U.S. has failed to create a regulatory environment that allows an industry to develop here. The U.S. ranks 17th in aquaculture production. Aquaculture investments go overseas – taking the jobs and revenue with them. Congress has the power to change that. By passing legislation to establish a clear and efficient regulatory process for aquaculture, growth of a domestic aquaculture sector can be a reality. Instead of importing most of our seafood, we can be producing more of it here at home – safely and sustainably, while investing in our portside communities.