Federal Issue Brief

 H.R. 2373, National Sustainable Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2011

AVMA Position:

Nonsupport

Summary:

Introduced by Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23rd), H.R. 2373 would establish a regulatory system for sustainable offshore aquaculture in the Unites States exclusive economic zone.

Background: 

Exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is a sea zone over which a state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources, including production of energy from water and wind. It stretches from the seaward edge of the state's territorial sea out to 200 nautical miles from its coast.

Justification:

  • The bill omits the needed inclusion of veterinarians with aquaculture expertise despite the bill’s attempted attention to disease control, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and nutrition relative to aquatic species.
  • The bill stipulates that “stocked fish shall be no further than two generations from the relevant wild stock, and shall not have been exposed to intentional selective breeding.” The AVMA is questions the feasibility of this what unintended consequences may result because:
    • By nature, the population of fish contained in an offshore aquaculture system will breed. Since the fish are intentionally contained, their resulting breeding will be restricted to others contained in the same system, which is in essence a form of selective breeding.
    • Maintaining stock fish at a maximum of two generations out will necessitate increased wild captures to supply the needed stock fish; thus, the program will not be self-sustaining. 
  • The bill would require reporting certain data that is not required in other animal production or human healthcare systems, and would make this information publicly available. This information could be misused or misconstrued.
  • It is unclear why the bill would prevent offshore aquaculture facilities to incorporate oil or gas platforms that are no longer operational. The reuse of such structures would be an environmentally sound option because it would reduce the necessity to build new structures. 
  • The bill establishes an additional agency within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an aquaculture database that will need to be maintained, and an advisory board. With current federal budget constraints it would be doubtful NOAA will have the resources, funding, or staff to accomplish these requirements.

Current Status:

House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and in addition to the Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs.

AVMA Contact:

Dr. Whitney Miller, Assistant Director, Governmental Relations Division, 202-289-3211.