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Hundred organisations opposes industrial ocean fish farming

Staff Writer |
More than a hundred organisations have formally announced their united opposition to industrial ocean fish farming in U.S. waters.

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According to Friends of the Earth, the move comes as some members of Congress are attempting to force through legislation to develop offshore fish farming nationwide.

In a letter to members of Congress, the broad coalition representing a wide range of interests, including commercial and recreational fishing, indigenous populations, consumer advocacy, food, farming and conservation, called on legislators to protect oceans from development of marine finfish aquaculture off U.S. shores.

“Industrial marine finfish farming poses serious risks to our oceans, coastal communities and public health,” the letter states.

“We write today on behalf of our organisations and our millions of members and activists to urge [Congress] to protect our oceans and oppose any legislation to develop marine finfish aquaculture in the United States.”

“Floating feedlots discharge untreated fish waste and other toxins directly into public waterways, putting marine life and public health at risk,” said Hallie Templeton, senior oceans campaigner for Friends of the Earth.

“These factory fish farms harm wild-capture fishing communities by polluting waterways and flooding markets with low-quality seafood. Congress should know better than to open the Pandora’s Box of industrial ocean fish farming in U.S. waters.”

While the U.S. government has explored allowing industrial fish farming to expand domestic production of seafood since the 1980s, overwhelming public opposition has prevented any federal laws permitting such facilities, according to the Recirculating Farms Coalition which was formed in 2009 to promote on land, contained fish farming methods as a means to increase domestic seafood production without the risks to fishing communities and ocean ecosystems.

“Open ocean aquaculture is an outdated and unnecessary method for raising fish. We should be proactively using modern technology to produce sustainable seafood in the U.S. that does not harm fishing communities or our environment. There is no need to develop industrial aquaculture facilities in our oceans,” said its executive director Marianne Cufone.

“This practice is associated with many serious environmental and health concerns, including: the escape of farmed fish into the wild, outcompeting wild fish for habitat, food and mates or intermixing with wild fish and altering their genetics and behaviors; the spread of diseases and parasites from farmed fish to wild fish and other marine life; and pollution from excess feed, wastes and any antibiotics or other chemicals used flowing through the open pens into natural waters. This all could hurt commercial and other fishing interests and our access to real food,” commented Niaz Dorry, coordinating director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance.

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