There’s a culinary revolution occurring in the US. Greater than ever earlier than, Individuals count on their meals to not solely be scrumptious, however sustainable and native, too. They’re increasingly turning to seafood choices as a nutritious and extra environmentally pleasant supply of protein. Whereas eating places and markets that may meet this demand are reaping the advantages, extra provide is required.
At the moment, as much as 85% of American seafood is imported, and it is estimated that half of that is farmed – usually in methods that will not reside as much as our well being or environmental requirements. In the meantime, a 2021 poll confirmed that 70% of American seafood customers are involved about the place their seafood comes from and practically 90% of U.S. voters prioritize rising rules and setting excessive requirements to make sure seafood is really sustainable. Notably, this consists of 92% of Democrats and 86% of Republicans.
A part of the answer is to make extra sustainable, homegrown aquaculture – the farming of seafood in U.S. waters – a actuality. Whereas some states allow seafood farming close to shore, the U.S. wants complete requirements for farms greater than 3 nautical miles offshore, in federal waters, to permit a sustainable trade to develop. Safely rising seafood in federal waters might assist stabilize provide for cooks and customers, drive job creation in coastal economies and the seafood provide chain and meet America’s rising demand for sustainably sourced, nutritious protein. We must be rising a home seafood financial system that features each sustainable aquaculture and wild seize fisheries.
A brand new invoice would take the primary, accountable steps towards constructing a powerful, sustainable aquaculture trade within the U.S.: the Science-based Equitable Aquaculture Food Act (SEAfood Act). It was launched earlier this month in Congress by Rep. Alan Lowenthal, a California Democrat.
There are potential dangers and unknown, unintended negative effects of aquaculture that have to be addressed. Tools failures can result in extra air pollution that endangers wildlife, and fish escapes might intervene with wild fisheries, upsetting delicate ecosystems that help present livelihoods. Moreover, we should make sure that the meals required for fish farms doesn’t deplete different species important to ocean well being.
That’s why the SEAfood Act is so essential. It might drive the research crucial to make sure regulatory requirements for aquaculture in offshore federal waters that restrict the consequences on marine ecosystems and defend coastal communities. Solely such a science-backed strategy can defend our oceans whereas additionally assembly client demand.
Congress has handed wanted laws like this earlier than. When our wild fisheries have been collapsing, the bipartisan Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act set a brand new customary for science-based insurance policies and sustainable practices that helped save American fishing. With a brand new trade in offshore aquaculture, we will construct on the successes of the US’ $1.5 billion aquaculture farms, that are already rising greater than 90 million kilos of seafood akin to oysters, clams and salmon yearly. However offshore, aquaculture of fish comes with distinctive dangers and challenges that we should perceive earlier than we transfer ahead. The SEAfood Act would assist us try this.
When sustainable offshore aquaculture thrives in U.S. waters, we can be much less susceptible to the sorts of provide chain shocks the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have induced. It additionally might enhance the financial system of coastal communities and enhance fairness by creating grants for training and profession improvement packages at establishments serving Native Individuals, Alaskan Natives, Native Hawaiians and different historically underserved constituencies.
Make no mistake: Extra aquaculture is coming. The worldwide inhabitants is rising and with it comes the necessity for extra protein. So U.S. lawmakers ought to cross the SEAfood Act and put money into analysis now to assist make sure that aquaculture in U.S. federal waters is finished proper from the beginning.