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What’s Coming in 2020 Under the New U.S. Executive Order on American Seafood

Image: Pike's Place Market, Seattle; Photo by Amber Renae on Unsplash

Last week the President signed an Executive Order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth.  While ocean-focused Executive Order (EO)s have some history (2010, 2018), this EO differs in two critical ways: 1) it focuses more narrowly on issues related to the production and sale of U.S. seafood, and 2) its activities are not unified under a single task force, agency or White House office, so it will be the public’s responsibility to track and engage on the parts that matter to us.  Coming out just months before the next presidential election, this order sends federal agencies sprinting to meet a number of deadlines before the January 2021 presidential inauguration.  What should we expect, and can we engage meaningfully in the process?

First, why is this happening?  There are many ways for a President to direct federal agencies out of public view, which is why it can be helpful to view these Executive Orders (EO)s as a communications product designed to appeal to important stakeholder groups by announcing specific policy objectives, milestones and deadlines, and often a commitment to White House-level oversight to see them through.  Like many others, this EO will expedite federal actions, increase collaboration across government agencies, and launch initiatives designed to outlast the current term (though I'm just focusing on the near-term milestones here).   Will it slow down regular government activities, like issuing permits and reports?  Probably not.  Will it pull focus from other pressing issues?  Definitely.  

Here is a breakdown of pre-Inauguration Day deadlines in the Executive Order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth:

August 2020

  • The Army Corps of Engineers will issue three proposed rules to establish national permits for coastal and marine aquaculture of 1) finfish, 2) seaweed, and 3) multiple species raised together. (Sec. 6)

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will publish a proposed rule to "further implement" the Port States Measures Agreement. (Sec. 5)

If these matter to you: To influence the scope of a proposed rule, share your views with officials from the agency responsible within the next month.  Otherwise, plan to submit written comments, which are accepted for a limited time following publication of the proposed rule.

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