Securing a sustainable future for US seafood in the wake of a global crisis
The United States seafood industry is undergoing rapid change, as a result of the current trade war with China, ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, and new governance mandates. The Executive Order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth, signed in May 2020, proposes wild-capture fisheries deregulation and prioritization of aquaculture, with an emphasis on offshore development. Recent disruption of wild-caught seafood supply and demand could create space for sustainable aquaculture growth, but expansion could also undermine wild fisheries livelihoods and economics if integrated management between industries is ignored. Here, we review the current state of US seafood and outline five guiding principles around the implementation, and possible modifications, of the Executive Order to facilitate sustainable US fisheries and aquaculture: (1) make precise and strategic fisheries reforms that continue to support sustainable wild fisheries, (2) integrate aquaculture and fisheries using an ecosystem-based approach, (3) improve aquaculture data collection, (4) address social resistance to aquaculture, and (5) reconcile nationalism in a global market. Regardless of the Head of State, implementation of these science-informed principles is critical for balancing social-ecological tradeoffs between wild captured and farmed seafood systems, and for ensuring a more resilient US seafood sector under an anticipated future of increased volatility.