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Group calls on policymakers to reject off shore aquaculture

Industrial-sized fish could further deplete our marine fisheries, says Food and Water Watch

November 8, 2006

Group calls on policymakers to reject off shore aquaculture

 

Evidence that ocean ecosystems are threatened should not be used as an excuse to authorize industrial-sized fish farms off our coasts, warned Food & Water Watch . Increased reliance on open-ocean farming of commercial fish to meet rising consumer demand could further deplete our marine fisheries, the group said.
 
A recent study in the journal Science predicts that 90% of all wild fish populations will collapse by 2048 due to declining water quality and overall loss of biodiversity in marine ecosystems, among other reasons.
 
"Fish farming depletes our fisheries even further because every pound of farmed carnivorous fish, like halibut or cod, requires at least three pounds of wild fish to be caught and ground up for feed," said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. "The study released supports ecosystem based management of fisheries, but what we've been offered by policy makers is privatized oceans and industrial-sized fish farms."
 
The group said in a press relese that industrial fish farms rely on heavy doses of antibiotics, chemicals, hormones and fish feeds with known carcinogens, which make it into our food supply and marine environment. "Additionally, escaped farmed fish could compete with and spread disease to wild populations. And wild fish are often ground up to feed farmed fish, increasing the pressure on wild populations and actually decreasing the amount of food the oceans provide to people".
 
"The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) believes such fish farms will help quintuple annual aquaculture production in the U.S. over the next 20 years. To achieve this, however, thousands of fish cages may need to be constructed. Aquaculture cages crammed with tens of thousands of fish generate enormous amounts of waste from excrement and uneaten feed, damaging seafloors and causing harmful algae blooms".
 
"Americans deserve safe and sustainable seafood, now and for future generations" continued Hauter. "Congress should approach fisheries management with caution, not gusto.”
 
Food & Water Watch urged members of Congress to reject single-species management schemes and privatization of our oceans in the form of individual fishing quotas and, instead, develop ecosystem and community based management systems.  Congress should also reject proposed legislation that would authorize aquaculture cages anchored to decommissioned offshore oil-rigs.
 
Last year, the NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service announced that Americans ate record amounts of fish for the third year in a row.  A few weeks ago, the Harvard School of Public Health recommended that Americans eat even more fish.  "Policymakers must resist the urge to meet consumer demand by authorizing construction of industrial-sized fish farms off our coasts", the group said.
 
In June, Food & Water Watch released a report – Seas of Doubt - documenting alleged environmental problems with four experimental open-ocean aquaculture projects.

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