Open Ocean Aquaculture in Gulf of Mexico a step closer
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council took final action on its Aquaculture Fishery Management Plan this week and will forward the document to the Secretary of Commerce for approval and implementation.
The Plan provides a regional permitting process for regulating aquaculture in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. That process is intended to ensure any aquaculture operations undertaken in the Gulf are environmentally sound, sustainable, and provide maximum benefits to the nation.
“The Gulf Council has taken a major step toward creating a new industry in the Gulf of Mexico to provide a safe source of seafood for US consumers,” said Joe Hendrix, Council Member.
The plan will allow fish farms to be installed only after careful application review and, once installed, the facilities will be under strict regulatory supervision by three Federal agencies.
“We want to ensure that our natural resources are protected,” Hendrix said, adding that fish farms will also provide new jobs and opportunities for many fishermen who have been displaced from the wild fisheries.
Predictably, the decision provoked a howl of protest from action groups. Andrea Kavanagh, manager of the Salmon Aquaculture Reform Campaign at the Pew Environment Group, was one of the first to issue a press release, in which she states: "Rushing to allow open ocean aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico is an accident waiting to happen. If the council is going to create a series of fish farms in federal waters, a national system with uniform guidelines should first be in place."