One Fish, Two Fish, Farmed Fish, Good Fish?

2019-03-11T16:30:17+00:00 March 11, 2019|
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff 

What It Was

Stronger America Through Seafood held a congressional briefing to discuss the future of the nation’s aquaculture industry, both nearshore and offshore.

Why It Matters

A domestic aquaculture industry can provide many potential benefits, ranging from blue economy growth and job creation to maximizing U.S. food safety and security, while increasing sustainable domestic sources of healthy protein. Moving the U.S. aquaculture industry forward, however, must balance rigorous, science-based environmental protections with a federal regulatory and permitting system that encourages entrepreneurial investment.

Key Points

Panelists spoke about the need for the United States to invest in domestic seafood production through aquaculture to reduce reliance on other countries for this important protein source. Mr. Robert Jones (Global Aquaculture Lead, The Nature Conservancy) stated that most aquaculture is produced internationally, and the United States imports 90 percent of our seafood.

Several aspects regarding the possibility of a domestic aquaculture industry were discussed, from economic to environmental benefits. Ms. Kathryn Unger (Country Director, North America, Cargill Aqua Nutrition) highlighted direct and indirect jobs aquaculture could create in several states across the country, from technology and equipment manufacturing to new markets for American soybean farmers, as byproducts of soybean oil production can be turned into fish feed.

Mr. Jones explained some environmental benefits domestic aquaculture can provide. For example, rearing fish creates a smaller carbon footprint compared to land-based protein sources. Shellfish and seaweed farming can also filter water and provide critical habitats for juvenile fish. When asked about environmental challenges, Mr. Jones stated that new coastal siting tools can assist managers, coastal planners, and businesses in identifying suitable sites for marine aquaculture that avoid environmentally sensitive habitats and can mitigate any negative impacts.

Several speakers expressed frustration that the United States has not established a stronger foothold in the marine aquaculture industry, especially since much of the technology and techniques other countries utilize originated in the United States. They agreed that a strong regulatory environment that is sustainable, encourages economic growth, and protective of the environment is necessary to move the domestic aquaculture industry forward.

Quotable

“One of the benefits we bring as the United States to the aquaculture industry is we have the ability to do it right and to show other parts of the world that this is how you can do it sustainably, do it properly, and do it well.” — Kathryn Unger (Country Director, North America, Cargill Aqua Nutrition)

“NOAA and the U.S. has some of the best aquaculture scientists there are […] to learn best practices and apply them elsewhere, to apply them overseas to places that are looking to develop aquaculture more sustainably than they have.” — Robert Jones (Global Aquaculture Lead, The Nature Conservancy)

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