NOAA’s industrial fish farming plan threatens oceans and fishing communities

NOAA’s industrial fish farming plan threatens oceans and fishing communities

Friends of the Earth gathers more than 38,000 comments opposing floating feedlots

RALEIGH, N.C. – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will hold another listening session in Raleigh, North Carolina today to continue discussing 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.

“The rush toward industrial ocean fish farming strikes me as similar to the zeal for increasing the nation’s fishing capacity after passage of the federal Magnuson Act in 1976 that lead to overcapitalization and dire economic, social and environmental consequences,” said Susan West, a journalist, researcher specializing in issues impacting coastal communities and the wife of a commercial fisherman. “The promise of increasing aquaculture production in the United States cannot be allowed to override the importance of local fishing families and communities.”

Friends of the Earth has collected more than 38,000 signatures on a petition to NOAA calling for an end to this irrational, self-imposed mission. A growing number of North Carolinians have also spoken out opposing the industry in state-controlled waters since the 2017 under-the-radar passage of a harmful state bill to establish a permitting program for fish farms off the state’s coastline. To date, the permitting program is pending with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries.

“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.”

The listening sessions come shortly after Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss) introduced the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture Acts (S.3138/H.R.6966). Should either 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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