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June 28, 2023

King Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Create Aquaculture Office to Better Support Farmers and Harvesters

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King has introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to support Maine’s growing aquaculture industry. The Sustaining Healthy Ecosystems, Livelihoods, and Local Seafood (SHELLS) Act will create a designated office for aquaculture within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to assist shellfish harvesters and seaweed farmers, improve food security, and strengthen coastal communities.

“For generations, Maine’s ocean economy has supported communities along our coast – aquaculture presents an exciting new opportunity to expand on this long tradition and create more good-paying jobs in the 21st century,” said Senator King. “From shellfish to seaweed, the bipartisan SHELLS Act would give aquaculture entrepreneurs and professionals a designated point person in the federal government who understands their needs and can best respond to them. This is a commonsense way to invest in Maine’s aquaculture farmers and harvesters, produce more world-class seafood products, and build on our state’s legacy of sustainable maritime innovation. I am grateful for my colleagues’ bipartisan support on this important effort to grow Maine’s invaluable ocean economy.”

The SHELLS Act also establishes an Aquaculture Advisory Committee to oversee program activities, support the development of best practices, provide technical assistance, and acknowledge the history, use, and preservation of Indigenous and traditional aquaculture practices and ecological knowledge.

The legislation is also led by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Roger Wicker (R-MS). Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Rob Wittman (R-VA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME).

The bill text is available here.

Senator King has been a strong advocate for Maine’s coastal communities and ocean economy. He worked to secure the future of Maine’s lobster fishery as they faced an “economic death sentence,” preventing the industry from facing devastating regulations. He’s also recently introduced legislation to spur economic development in coastal Maine communities and to boost marketing efforts and overseas sales for American agricultural products, including seafood.

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