News & Events

Regional e-Notes: September Letter from the Director

Sep 30, 2018


As you are likely aware, the U.S. aquaculture industry has been a hot topic on Capitol Hill this year. From legislators and government agencies to industry stakeholders and trade groups, many are calling for concerted efforts to increase domestic aquaculture production.

Ramping up aquaculture production can help the U.S. reduce the seafood trade deficit and improve the economy through increased revenue and job creation. A key part of expanding domestic production will be opening more areas to farming. One area that holds great potential to sustainably produce more seafood is the EEZ. The U.S. has the second largest EEZ in the world with an area roughly 4.4 million square miles across three oceans, the Caribbean sea and the Gulf of Mexico. However, regulations for marine aquaculture have been an issue.

The Department of Commerce has clarified that they would like to see a one-stop-shop for aquaculture regulations. To address this, there is currently a bill—sponsored by U.S. Senator Roger Wicker and co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio—named the “Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture Act,” which calls for the creation of the Office of Marine Aquaculture within NOAA Fisheries. That office would oversee regulatory issues within NOAA and push for development opportunities to spur aquaculture’s growth, especially within the country’s exclusive economic zones.

While the proposed legislation is promising, a federal judge ruled last week that the US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) does not have the authority to oversee fish pens in federal waters. If we are not able to streamline the regulatory process for U.S. marine aquaculture, can we reach our goals for more seafood? As always, I welcome your comments, suggestions, and questions.


Cheng-Sheng Lee, Ph.D.
Executive Director, CTSA