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Offshore Fish Farming ?

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Offshore fish farming is proposed

Congress asked to set regulations for aquaculture

Published in the Asbury Park Press 06/9/05

Large-scale offshore fish farming could reduce America's reliance on imported seafood and provide new business opportunities for fishermen, according to Bush administration officials who propose tapping into one of the world's fastest-growing food industries by permitting new aquaculture operations within 200 miles off the nation's coasts.

Citing pilot projects off New Hampshire, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, administration officials said Tuesday they are asking Congress to establish regulations for fish farming, known as aquaculture, in federal waters.

"This is part of a business plan to make the U.S. self-sufficient in seafood," said William Hogarth, assistant director for fisheries with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, during a telephone news conference on Tuesday.

"We can replace imports with good, safe American seafood that's produced in accordance with environmental considerations," Hogarth said. "Right now, it's imports."

Currently, fish farming in the United States focuses largely on freshwater fish such as catfish. There also are scores of near-shore saltwater farms in state waters raising shellfish like mussels, clams and oysters. Seeded clam beds now provide a significant portion of New Jersey's bay clam harvest.

In countries from Canada to China to Scotland to Thailand, farming of saltwater species such as salmon and shrimp has become increasingly common, with much of the catch sold in the United States. Hogarth said 70 percent of seafood consumed in the United States now comes from foreign sources.

Fish farming has drawn criticism from environmentalists, however, who say food fed to farmed fish can pollute the water, create excessive waste in a concentrated area and increase the possibility of parasites and disease in farmed fish.

Ocean farming could cause "a net loss of protein," according to Zeke Grader of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, which joined several activist groups in criticizing the proposal. Raising large carnivorous fish in captivity takes three to eight pounds of feed derived from smaller fish species to produce one pound of marketable seafood, Grader contends.

Speaking at the National Press Club, Hogarth and others on a NOAA-organized panel said proper management and the deep-water environs of future fish farms will help keep environmental problems under control, although they acknowledged some issues, like escapes of domesticated fish to the wild, can't be completely prevented.

Currently, the United States does not have a regulatory structure in place to allow aquaculture operations in federal marine waters. Hogarth said the bill being sent to Congress would authorize NOAA and its parent Commerce Department to regulate and oversee the industry, in consultation with coastal state governments and the existing system of regional fishery management councils.

Staff writer Kirk Moore and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Don't know enough about this topic to make a good comment. But,it does make sense to use our waters so the fish is fresher, easier to regulate and employs American workers.
Over the years National Fisherman has discussed the pros and cons of this type of fishery.Mostly cons resultant of depressed market prices for American Fisherman due to imports cheap labor costs.Gulf shrimpers have been dramatically effected the last 3 seasons by Asian product.

There is no doubt that farming can help American workers, but it will take American consumers support to gain marketshare.Sams Club,Costco, etc will still purchase the cheaper foreign product unless we get behind locally grown product.

As for the pollution aspect, I can't believe that deep water farming is any less intrusive.Those extra nutrients will filter down to the bottom or be swept away by offshore currents.Either way they will result in changes to the ocean.This seems like politcal spin to me.

But, the most distrubing news here, is that our Govt is getting involved. Bill Hogarth has not changed NOAA as promised, despite his public appearances and editorial inserts in NF. This adminstration should not be allowed new legislation for aquaculture, until they clean up/repair the current problems @ hand.For example our pitiful voice in ICCAT, the groundfish issues on the Banks,the misguided fishery on sharks, the billfish/swordfish problem created by legal longlining,and our highly sought after Striped Bass.
As you can now tell, I just don't trust NOAA to serve our best interests.
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Any kind of farming has got to be a good thing,the amount of pressure on the our fishery is incredible.The amount of fish consumed[market] and discarded[bycatch] has got to have an end sooner or later.You can't simply continue to hammer a natural resource without pay back.I not sure who would be responsible but the strange part of our country's own commercial fishing industry is 70% is imported mean while most of own catch heads over to asia ie....monkfish,livers,tuna,or Europe....dogfish whats wrong with this picture.A marketing program has got to be put in place to reducate our own consumers for our oceans good and the sake of everything that swims.Pros and cons should be called what they really are DOLLARS&CENTS.Who's getting what they want and who's not.
There was a show on the discovery channel two weeks ago had several parts. It was something like strange days I think. Any how if you watched that show and saw the results that fish farming, including shrimp, bluefin tuna, and others you would not be liking what they are doing. They also had a study that the farm raised fish are more toxic than wild fish because of what they feed them and they also import non native fish to feed the ones they are raising which could be introducing disease that the local fish cannot fight. I don't like it. My 2 cents. Bill
Fish farming has some very serious side effects.

Also BFT's are not fish farming. They're penned fish that avoid the ICCAT qouta system.
FIsh farming is still in it's infantsee,mistake in anything new are unavoidable,but you learn and move on,hopefully not making the same mistakes.As far as feed there is a possible use for by-catch rather than just throwing it back dead and wasting it.
fish arent meant to be farmed! the bluefin are penned and thats not how mother nature designed things. the only way we can save our fisheries is to stop the forigen countries from raping the oceans with no regard for anything! the ICCAT sucks!
Always seems to have a "negitive" effect on any species so far....from what I've observed....
Man shouldn't fly,go to the moon,the earth is flat........Just because we don't have the right recipe yet doesn't me it can't be done.As far as ICAAT,we should know by now we can't rely on the rest of the world to do the right thing.I beleive any is possible,espacially if profitable.
How come PeaQuest Trout Hatchery
is so successfull, and The Musky
Trout Hatchery :confused: , just two in NJ that uses the
water from the ground and flows thru the hatchery
and out to the respective rivers . How polluted
are they? There is give and take in everything
we do,we have to experiment with this type of thing
or we may all go hungry someday!!
My 2 cents
HyBrid Joe
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