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Broad coalition applauds new bill banning industrial ocean fish farms

Congressman Don Young’s “Keep Fin Fish Free Act” protects oceans from floating factory farms

WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) introduced the Keep Fin Fish Free Act (H.R. 2467), which places a moratorium on commercial permitting of marine finfish aquaculture facilities in federally controlled areas of the ocean. These facilities routinely cause massive farmed fish spills – like the August 2017 spill of more than 260,000 non-native Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound – which threaten wild fish stocks by spreading pests and disease, and increasing competition for food, habitat, and reproduction. Facilities also directly discharge a slew of toxins like untreated fish waste and pharmaceuticals; attract and entangle marine mammals and seabirds; and marginalize wild-capture fisheries and coastal economies.

The much-needed legislation comes at a time in which the Trump Administration is prioritizing expansion of this unnecessary and destructive industry in U.S. waters. H.R. 2467 would specifically prohibit federal agencies from permitting marine finfish aquaculture facilities in federal ocean waters, unless and until Congress passes a future law authorizing such permits.

“This legislation will help protect our oceans and communities from industrial ocean fish farming,” said Hallie Templeton, Senior Oceans Campaigner with Friends of the Earth. “NOAA is pushing to permit this disastrous industry at the expense of the environment and coastal communities, and has no authority to do so. We applaud Congressman Young for fighting against floating factory farms and protecting our waterways and wild fish stocks.”

“The United States is simply not prepared to manage offshore net pen finfish aquaculture in the Exclusive Economic Zone,” said Noah Oppenheim, Executive Director of Institute for Fisheries Resources. “Without the relevant legal mandates and adequate environmental and economic scoping, Interior and Commerce are managing offshore fish farms in a legal gray area, enabling significant harm to wild capture fisheries and West Coast fishing communities. Thank you Congressman Young for introducing this sensible bill.”

“Factory farms have no place in the ocean or on land,” said Shannon Eldredge, Board President for the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance. “NAMA supports the Keep Fin Fish Free Act because raising fish in massive cages in federal waters is completely against the public interest and will not solve our food system crisis. These large-scale operations are toxic and harmful to human health, the environment and our fishing industry.” 

“We cannot allow massive factory fish farms into federal waters, but we know that agribusiness giants are working hard to do just that,” said Wenonah Haunter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. “This bill would protect our federal waters from factory fish farms and make sure that our public ocean resources are not given away to another polluting industry.”

“Factory fish farms threaten our food security and the health of our oceans. The environmental risks are almost too numerous to mention: disease transfer to wild fish, more antibiotics in our waterways, the depletion of important forage fish species, increased nutrient pollution in areas already prone to algae blooms, and more,” said Cynthia Sarthou, Executive Director of Healthy Gulf. “Industrial fish farming is also an inefficient practice that produces expensive and poor-quality fish. It replaces fisherman-owned small businesses with capital-intensive corporations. If we instead focus on taking care of our oceans, we can continue to enjoy one of nature’s last renewable and abundant sources of food: wild fish.”

“I’ve been growing soybeans in Iowa for 42 years.  Agribusinesses claim that aquaculture will increase demand for soybeans which will boost prices and, thus, be good for family farmers,” says George Naylor, Former President of the National Family Farm Coalition. “The truth is family farmers are stuck in a system where global supply will always outstrip demand.  Soybeans from around the world are already used to feed hogs, cattle, and chickens in unsustainable factory farms.  It would be a shame to add fish to this unhappy picture.”

“Globally, open water fin fish aquaculture is associated with too many problems. That is why more than ten years ago, Congress rejected multiple bills to permit this industry in U.S. waters,” said Marianne Cufone, Executive Director of the Recirculating Farms Coalition. “Responsible fin fish farming has moved out of the ocean, to better protect wildlife, habitat, and coastal communities. More sustainable alternatives, like land-based recirculating farms, are the smart path forward, if the U.S. wants to supplement wild caught seafood.

Communications contact: Erin Jensen, (202) 222-0722, ejensen@foe.org

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