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Fisheries Push for Streamlined Process for Ocean Aquaculture

posted on June 8, 2007

G8 meetings wrapped up Friday as member nations agreed to a new $60 billion program to fight poverty and disease in Africa. The resolution was one of many made by G8 leaders addressing a litany of economic, social and environmental problems.

It's doubtful that any environmental issue, real or imagined, has received more attention in recent memory than global warming. But even as many scientists sound the alarm over ozone depletion other researchers are concerned over depletion of global fishing stocks.

Last year, a study published in the journal Science predicted a "global collapse" of all species currently fished, possibly by 2050, if fishing around the world continues at its present pace.

The U.S. fishing industry maintains that it cannot supply demand solely with wild catches and inland fish farms. This week the fishing industry called on the government to open up federal waters to aquaculture.

Fisheries Push for Streamlined Process for Ocean Aquaculture

The U.S. Commerce Department says about 70 percent of all the seafood eaten in the U.S. comes from overseas, contributing to a trade deficit of about $9 billion in fish.

The wild catch of fish – which includes salmon and lobster – accounts for a little more than 50 percent. For years, the U.S. fisheries industry has worked to improve the U.S. supply through development of inland fish farming.

Now, to widen the net of the U.S. catch, the industry wants permission to "farm" in salt water.

John Connnelly, President, National Fisheries Institute: "We think the growth in the global industry is going to be, is in off shore aquaculture. Allow fish to be grown in new technology cages in pens in the middle of the ocean or off shore."

However, the U.S. lacks specific regulations for aquaculture in federal waters – as one in the fisheries industry found out the hard way.

Don Kent, President, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute: We planned a demonstration project of 300 metric tons. It would've been the largest off shore demonstration project in the U.S. It took us two years working through a permitting process that we never to defined completely here in this country. We finally decided to do the test project in Ensanada working with one of the tuna farms."

To remedy that, the seafood industry held a news conference this week to push for passage of the National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007. The Act would streamline the application process through the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration --or NOAA. NOAA would coordinate input from other agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Commerce Department is expected to host an aquaculture summit later this month.


Tags: deficit ecology fish fishers fishing marine life news oceans