Organic standards have successfully developed in Canada and the EU and they have allowed for the development of a successful organic niche market.
The US aquaculture industry however is still waiting for a proposed final rule. The latest in the development is that a Whitehouse agency has sent the ruling back to the USDA with major reworkings.
So what is preventing the US organic standard from being approved?
One of the main question marks is around what feed can be used in organic production. The ruling requires feed to be made of fish so that it is as close to the fish's natural diet as possible.
This means that feeds cannot be comprised of GMO products, synthetic amino acids or poultry, feather or blood meals.
One of the reworkings is due to concerns over the sustainability of using wild fish in feed for organic production. In other countries, organic production accepts wild fish trimmings or fish meal and fish oil that is from sustainably certifed/fished fisheries.
For the US standard, a phase out of fish meal and fish oil has been proposed. Mr Lockwood noted that he believes with the concerns over fish meal and fish oil from wild fish stocks, the standard may move to accept fish trimmings and, in particular, from the Alaskan pollock fishing industry.
Another problem highlighted is that of disease and sea lice, and the impact that fish farming may have on wild stocks.
In terms of shellfish production, there is a concern is that it is not known what is being filtered/eaten by shellfish in the sea. The organic production of shellfish will therefore require very strict water quality regulations and sites will have to be specifically chosen where a guarantee of water quality control can be met.
For now, with deadline after deadline being missed, Mr Lockwood explained that it may take a new administration to get the standard passed, but for now, people should speak to their congressmen to try and get things moving.
For more information on the US organic standard, read: