Bush Administration Bill Ignores Ocean Health, says action group
Food & Water Watch has released a press release stating that "A Bush Administration bill to permit hundreds of thousands of fish to be raised in industrial size cages off America’s coasts could harm oceans, fish, and people , upon the bill’s introduction in the House of Representatives yesterday.
“As Americans gear up for summer vacations at the beach, it is outrageous that Congress would consider Bush Administration legislation that could harm one of our most precious natural resources – the ocean,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter.
NOAA’s bill, The National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007, or H.R. 2010, acts solely as a permitting mechanism, ignoring the environmental and community impacts resulting from raising carnivorous finfish, fish like tuna or halibut, which eat wild fish. Depending on the species, a pound of farmed fish requires approximately 2 to 6 pounds of wild fish to be caught and ground up as feed. Increased catch of feeder species, such as menhaden and whiting, would endanger wild fish populations and the coastal communities that depend on them.
There’s little published data on the environmental effects of industrial-sized fish farms. Intensive aquaculture can rely on heavy doses of antibiotics, chemicals, hormones, and fish feeds with known carcinogens. A research team evaluating a fish farm off the coast of Hawaii found the facility had “grossly polluted” the seafloor and that some types of sea life were “severely depressed” due to the waste produced by the farm. Additionally, industrial-sized fish farms can attract and concentrate parasites and diseases that can spread to wild fish populations. Escaped non-native or farmed fish could compete with wild populations.
“Our government’s priority should be ocean protection, not aquaculture promotion as represented in this bill,” continued Hauter. “Between flushing pollutants into the ocean and grinding up wild fish to feed farmed fish, increased aquaculture could further damage marine ecosystems.”
The Bush Administration’s plan would allow for the construction of large-scale fish farms in deep waters from 3 to 200 miles off the U.S. coast. Among the reasons that the group objects to the plan are that it (a) lacks substantial environmental provisions, (b) lacks consumer protection initiatives, (c) contains weak provisions for protecting the financial interest of traditional fisheries-dependent communities, and, (d) ignores regional rights and jurisdiction over the planning, regulation and monitoring of open ocean fish farms.
A Food & Water Watch analysis of the National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007, H.R. 2010, is posted at: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/fish/fish-campaign/OOA-bill-2007