NOAA pushes industrial ocean fish farm plan in Florida as red tide death toll continues to climb

NOAA pushes industrial ocean fish farm plan in Florida as red tide death toll continues to climb

Proposed fish farm for Gulf of Mexico could increase severity of red tide with direct discharge of untreated fish waste and toxins

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today held a listening session in St. Petersburg, Fla. to continue discussions of the Administration’s five-year strategic plan, targeting an increase in finfish aquaculture production by leasing federal waterways to corporations looking to build floating feedlots.

“It is unbelievable that the agency charged with ocean stewardship continues to push for such a disastrous industry in our public waterways,” said Hallie Templeton, Senior Oceans Campaigner for Friends of the Earth. “Floating feedlots would cause unavoidable harm to our oceans and marine-reliant industries. I urge NOAA to truly listen to the growing public outcry during these listening sessions and rethink its flawed plan to bring industrial ocean fish farms to our waterways.”

The agency’s aquaculture plan was met with staunch opposition from commercial fishermen, tribal nations and other stakeholders at the first listening session to cover the issue in Juneau, Alaska last week. The listening session comes as the Gulf of Mexico faces the worst red tide in more than a decade, which has devastated tourism and caused the deaths of hundreds of dolphins, sea turtles and manatees and an untold number of fish.

“Marine finfish farming is an unnecessary and outdated approach to increasing U.S fish production,” said Marianne Cufone, long time Gulf fisheries advocate and now Executive Director of the Recirculating Farms Coalition. “States like Washington are banning it in their waters, and other countries are shifting to innovative approaches like recirculating systems with tanks on land that do not emit pollutants into the environment. Oil spills and algal blooms already threaten our Gulf waters – we don’t need industrial fish farms, too.”

The push by NOAA to lease federal waters to floating feedlots could significantly harm our commercial fishing industries, coastal communities and ocean ecosystem due to risks that simply cannot be avoided or mitigated.

Friends of the Earth continues to gather signatures on a nationwide petition to NOAA opposing the plan, as well as a petition opposing the proposed fish farm in the Gulf of Mexico.

These 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, (501) 772-6899, [email protected]
Communications contact: Patrick Davis, (202) 222-0744, [email protected]

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