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Firms encouraged by White House’s move to modernize U.S. aquaculture

May 12, 2020  By  Nestor Arellano

A number of companies have expressed support for the United State’s move to strengthen the country’s aquaculture industry.

Last week, President Donald Trump issued an executive order which aims to improve the the competitiveness of the industry that has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move was meant to “ensure food security; provide environmentally safe and sustainable seafood; support American workers; ensure coordinated, predictable, and transparent Federal actions; and remove unnecessary regulatory burdens.”


The U.S. seafood sector has an estimated $15 billion trade deficit.

To address this issue, the government has designated the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to be the lead agency for aquaculture projects.

Among other things, the order aims to:

  • Remove barriers to the aquaculture permitting process and direct lead agencies to complete all environmental reviews and authorization decisions within two years.
  • Within one year of the date of this order, identify at least two geographic areas containing locations suitable for commercial aquaculture.
  • Identify grant programs applicable to aquaculture siting, research, development, and operations.

A top executive of Innovasea, an aquaculture technology company, said he “fully supports” the White House order to create a more efficient and predictable permitting process.

David Kelly, CEO of Innovasea, also urged Republican and Democrat members of Congress to work together to establish a comprehensive aquaculture framework.

“The White House’s action is a positive step toward simplifying the United States’ byzantine regulatory review process for aquaculture, which can be daunting, expensive and time-consuming for businesses looking to get into sustainable fish farming,” said Kelly. “But Executive Orders can be rescinded, which is why we’re also urging Congress to take up the bipartisan AQUAA Act that was filed earlier this year that would permanently establish a clearly defined regulatory framework for aquaculture in the United States.”

Glenn Cooke, CEO of Cooke Aquaculture, welcomed Trump’s order.

“I am very pleased President Trump has recognized that domestic farmed production of aquaculture seafood is vital to help correct the severe trade imbalance and strengthen local food security,” he said. “This should be viewed as a call to State and local governments that the country is in dire need of domestically produced seafood protein and that they should find ways to support, promote, and expand this essential food sector as other countries have.”

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