We Need to Take Action Now!
CUSP recognizes the need to continue developing aquaculture in the United States. A growing domestic aquaculture sector will increase food security, preserve endangered working waterfronts, provide domestic jobs and create local businesses vested in protecting the environment that they depend upon to grow healthy food.
Presently, we import more than 90% of seafood consumed in the U.S. At the same time, China has become a net importer of seafood. As a result, it is becoming harder for U.S. seafood buyers to source product in the increasingly competitive international market. Competition for existing supplies is driving prices up. At a time when doctors and health advocates are calling on Americans to eat more seafood, consumption in the U.S. has been declining. By making aquaculture growth in the U.S. a high priority, we can assure our own supply by providing a domestic product and also decrease the carbon footprint associated with reliance on importing so much of our seafood supply.
Americans are eating less than half of the FDA recommended amount of seafood. The general population should eat at least 8 ounces of seafood per week, with a goal of at least 250 mg per day of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should eat at least 8 ounces of seafood per week for omega-3 fatty acid DHA to improve infant health outcomes. Increasing domestic aquaculture supplies can provide part of the solution for increasing seafood consumption and helping combat rising health care costs as a result of high levels of heart disease and obesity.
In addition to improved food security, nutrition and health, a growing aquaculture industry benefits local communities through economic diversification and the provision of highly skilled careers for generations to come. A study in Canada revealed that aquaculture jobs account for 10-15% of local employment in Canadian provinces that have developed aquaculture industries. These jobs are typically higher skilled jobs that pay higher wages with benefits. An economic analysis developed for a single 5,000 ton farm in the southwest predicts that in addition to the 72 direct jobs created for the farm, another 230 indirect and induced jobs will be supported in the community resulting in approximately $100 million in new spending in the area.
Finally, NOAA has been tasked with constructing a regulatory framework for aquaculture production in Federal waters. These efforts have started in the Gulf of Mexico, but they will have national implications by providing other regions of the United States a framework for developing aquaculture in their areas. As Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, former NASA astronaut and the NOAA Administrator, has said:
“Aquaculture is the bright spot and one that we need to continue to nurture, both for the food supply that it provides and for the fact that it provides year-round, living wage jobs centered in coastal and rural communities… Let’s start using more U.S.-developed technology and expertise here to help pave the way for a more robust industry in the United States.”