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Source: World Wildlife Fund

In response to the introduction of bipartisan Senate bill S. 4723, “Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture Act”, World Wildlife Fund issued the following statement from Dr. Aaron McNevin, Global Lead of Aquaculture, Food:

“WWF appreciates the significant effort that has gone into the introduction of the AQUAA Act, which puts forth a foundation for US aquaculture research and production. Aquaculture provides a critical protein source for a growing population. We believe that well-managed and regulated aquaculture is necessary to help feed people and relieve the extreme burden on our ocean’s fisheries.

Over half of the seafood we eat today is farmed. It’s important that the rapid expansion of the industry is done sustainably to minimize both negative environmental and social impacts. The US imports 90% of the seafood we consume. As the US works to improve oversight of that import stream, domestic aquaculture would provide a pathway for better control of those impacts, while growing a sustainable source of food for both American and global markets.

The bill is a step in the right direction, including setting a first-of-its-kind standard for aquaculture feed. But to get this right, there needs to be clear definitions that ensure the species cultured are native or established, that there are good criteria for sustainable wild-caught feed ingredients and that terrestrial feed ingredients are conversion-free. These standards should be stated clearly and demonstrated, which will require clarity and precision to ensure a robust framework for program design, implementation, oversight, and enforcement.

User conflicts often exist in near-shore aquaculture operations because of both perceived and real impacts of aquaculture. If the US can learn from the global challenges that aquaculture has faced and not repeat the same mistakes, exposed ocean aquaculture in the US could assist the industry’s challenge with a clear social license to operate. It is also important to note that some forms of aquaculture – seaweeds and mollusks – can provide ecosystem services, such as capturing carbon and nutrients that accumulate in the oceans and converting them to food biomass.

We look forward to working with the Senate and the House to build in the types of precautions necessary to get program design and implementation right for people and nature.”