New legislation introduced by Alaska's Representative Don Young would prohibit the authorization of commercial aquaculture in federal waters. Specifically, the bill would prevent the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Commerce from authorizing such ventures, requiring specific authorization from Congress.
"If not properly managed, farmed fish can be a significant threat to the health of Alaska's wild stocks and the health of our oceans," Rep. Young said. "Alaska's seafood industry is one of the largest employers in the state, and today's legislation will preserve Congress' prerogative to determine what type of aquaculture programs should and should not be conducted in our waters and those adjacent to our waters."
Federal waters are labeled an Exclusive Economic Zone, an area for which Congress has never approved open ocean aquaculture. There has also never been a legislative framework meant for management of fish farms in this zone.
Finfish aquaculture has come to the forefront lately as the company AquaBounty Technologies, Inc., seeks approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its genetically engineered salmon.
Last week, after significant public and congressional demand, the FDA extended the comment period on the draft environmental assessment regarding AquaAdvantage salmon from Feb. 25 to April 26.