Administration Issues Executive Order to Promote Competition in Seafood

The Trump administration issued an executive order aimed at promoting competition and economic growth in the American seafood industry. The order says more effective aquaculture permits and fishery regulations, as well as a greater effort to stop unregulated fishing, could improve American quality of life, provide jobs to help get Americans back to work, and maintain food availability.

“America needs a vibrant and competitive seafood industry to create and sustain American jobs, put safe and healthy food on American tables, and contribute to the American economy,” the order states. It says the action is meant to improve competitiveness, support American workers, ensure federal actions are coordinated and transparent, ensure food security, and remove regulation.

The United States imports over 85 percent of the seafood consumed by Americans. The order establishes the Interagency Seafood Trade Task Force through the Secretary of Commerce which will include heads of agencies including the Secretary of State, Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Agriculture, and Secretary of Homeland Security.

The order says Regional Fishery Management Councils will be asked to submit a list of recommended steps to reduce domestic fishing burdens and increase production, including regulation changes and guidance for those working in the industry. The action also takes steps to make aquaculture permits more accessible. All decisions on permits will be made within two years and when two or more agencies are required to review the request all other agencies will cooperate with the lead agency to ensure fast processing.

To combat illegal or unregulated fishing the order asks the Secretary of Commerce and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to propose steps to implement the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing, a 2016 UN agreement. The order also says public-private partnerships should be encouraged to promote cooperation with the government and other countries to improve maritime awareness and cooperation.

The order further asks the Secretary of Commerce, after consulting with other governmental agencies and state governments, to choose two geographic areas during the next five years and complete an Environmental Impact Statement assessing the impact of aquaculture facilities in the area and make recommendations for suitable aquaculture species and suitable requirements for facilities.

The Secretary of Agriculture, in consultation with other departments, is asked in the order to consider if the National Aquatic Animal Health Plan from 2008 should be replaced with a new plan including additional aquaculture information and strategy.