NOAA plan could allow polluting industrial ocean fish farming

NOAA plan could allow polluting industrial ocean fish farming

Friends of the Earth gathers more than 36,000 comments to NOAA opposing floating feedlots

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will commence a series of listening sessions beginning today to discuss its five-year strategic plan, which targets an increase in aquaculture production by leasing federal waterways to companies looking to build floating feedlots.

In promoting offshore aquaculture, the agency inaccurately claims that placing concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, in the ocean would solve the current seafood deficit and create jobs, while also operating sustainably. While NOAA’s plan offers a utopian vision for factory fish farming, the reality is that these facilities would destroy our wild-capture fishing industries, devastate the ocean ecosystem and give mega-corporations greater control of our food production system.

“NOAA’s rush to site finfish aquaculture in federal waters with no mandate will come at the expense of the environment, our wild capture seafood markets and our fisheries and fishing communities,” said Noah Oppenheim, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “If the agency were truly interested in listening, they’d already know what we’ve been saying for years: their plans are incompatible with the fishing way of life. The finfish aquaculture industry cannot be entrusted with the biosecurity of our oceans. We look forward to reiterating these decades-old issues anew at NOAA’s public listening sessions.”

Friends of the Earth has collected more than 36,000 signatures on a petition to NOAA calling for an end to this irrational, self-imposed mission. A variety of stakeholders have also made their opposition known to Congress, through the delivery of a letter from more than 100 organizations representing a wide range of interests, including commercial and recreational fishing, indigenous populations, consumer advocacy, food, farming and conservation.

“These floating feedlots will pollute our coasts and allow large corporations to dominate and destroy the fishing industry,” said Hallie Templeton, senior oceans campaigner for Friends of the Earth. “We have seen these operations wreak havoc in other countries like Canada and Scotland. Such serious environmental, social and public health risks simply cannot be ignored or mitigated.”

The listening sessions come shortly after Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) introduced the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture Act. Should the bill become law, it would establish a permitting system for industrial ocean fish farms in U.S. waters.

Expert contact: Hallie Templeton, (434) 326-4647, [email protected]
Communications contact: Patrick Davis, (202) 222-0744, [email protected]

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