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Aquaculture holds great promise for US seafood supply

US - The Bush administration's National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007 holds great promise for securing the future of America's seafood supply.

If enacted by Congress, the proposed legislation will allow American business to participate in this $70 billion global industry while ensuring stringent environmental protections. Commercial ventures would be allowed to operate fish and shellfish farms between 3 and 200 miles off our coasts in federal ocean waters. This marine area covers a space larger than the combined land area of the lower 48 states.

Aquaculture makes good economic sense. Raising fish and shellfish for food has become a global reality. As other countries have continued to develop aquaculture industries the United States has fallen behind, left to export our technology and investments overseas. With a seafood trade deficit somewhere between $8 billion to $10 billion, the United States relies on imported fish and shellfish to meet current market demand, and that reliance will rise unless we increase our ability to produce seafood at home.

We import more than 80 percent of our seafood, and at least half of that is farm-raised. Projections show that, within the next 20 years in this country alone, we will need another 2 million metric tons of seafood per year to meet market demand. Where will this increased seafood production come from? Aquaculture is the answer.

Aquaculture makes good health sense. The mounting medical research on the benefits of seafood to human health cannot be ignored. Federal health experts advise Americans to eat at least two servings of seafood per week. Seafood is an excellent source of protein, is low in fat and sodium, and contains other vitamins and minerals that are important for good health. A recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health found even modest consumption of fish reduces risk of coronary death by 36 percent. This is significant, as heart disease is the main cause of death among Americans. We need to promote fish consumption, but first we need to ensure we can meet growing market demand for seafood.

Aquaculture makes good environmental sense. It will give Americans more control of the environmental conditions under which our seafood is grown. It can be used in hatcheries to restore depleted species of fish and shellfish and boost catches for commercial and sport fishermen. It can complement wild catches to meet the growing demand for seafood.

Source: The Washington Times

the Fish Site Editor

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