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April 9, 2013


United States

Slow Progress on USDA Organic Aquaculture Standards


Gary Jensen, National Program Leader for Aquaculture at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), reports: In 2012, the USDA, after a period of inactivity on organic aquaculture, renewed its interest in getting organic aquaculture standards into practice.  Jensen also noted that Canada and the European Union had recently adopted organic standards for aquaculture.


At the recent Aquaculture 2013 Conference (February 21–25, 2013) in Nashville, Tennessee, USA, George Lockwood, chairman of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), an advisory body to USDA, reported.


Carl Salamone, Vice President of Seafood at Wegmans Food Markets, a family-owned regional supermarket chain in the USA with 81 stores in the mid-Atlantic region, has had a highly successful experience over the past two-years selling European Union organic salmon with price premiums reaching 75% above the price for conventional farmed salmon.


Wegmans demonstrates that USA aquaculture producers are currently free to seek organic certification under third-party private standards, or to standards in other countries, and legally sell certified organic products in the USA.  The USDA is not stopping USA organic aquaculture operations from competing in the current organic seafood market as long as they do not use or reference the USDA Organic label.


While fish diets that do not include fish meal are possible with grain meal substitutes, they require synthetic amino acids for the healthy growth of fish.  Unfortunately, the proposed USDA organic rules proscribe such synthetics.


European Union and Canadian organic standards for aquaculture are considerably simpler than those proposed for the USA and are not as restrictive.  With feed, for example, the Canadians and EU allow fish meal and oil from trimmings of wild fish caught in sustainably managed fisheries.  This is very different from the standards proposed by the USDA.


In summary, Lockwood said, “...There is considerable frustration within the USA organic aquaculture community stemming from the seemingly endless delays with the final rulemaking process....”


Information: If you have information that you would like to share with National Organic Aquaculture Working Group, email it to


Information: George Lockwood (phone 1-831-659-4145, cell 1-831-601-6761, email


Information: Gary Jensen, National Program Leader for Aquaculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Mail Stop 2240, Room 3246, 1400 Independence Avenue S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-2240, USA (phone 1- 202-401-6802, fax 1-202-401-6156, email


Source: Aquacontacts Mail Group News (USDA).  From: Gary Jensen (  Overview of Special Organic Aquaculture Session at Aquaculture 2013 and Next NOSB Meeting with Aquaculture WG Update.  April 3, 2013.

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