Kona Loses “Fishing Poles”
Nature’s Public Comment?
Kona’s goin’ fishin’, but it seems to have lost both of its fishin’ poles! Kona Blue Waters Farms, the company that is waiting on a “fishing” permit for its fish farm operation off the coast of Hawaii, has officially reported to NOAA that both of its cages broke free while they were being towed behind a boat. That was really fast. NOAA hasn’t yet green-lighted Kona’s controversial fish farm experiment, but Kona has already lost their cages faster than you can say, “that’s not fishing.” The good news is that the cages were empty, so no fish escaped and there isn’t a risk of spreading the diseases that are typically associated with fish farms. But will this incident be enough of a red flag for NOAA to proceed with necessary caution on such projects? Considering the fact that there will be little opportunity for the public to comment on whether or not Kona should be allowed to set up a fish farm in federal waters, is it possible that this is nature’s public comment? More importantly, will Kona be fined for littering?
Food & Water Watch allies in Hawaii confirmed that NOAA received a call from someone at Kona, alerting them to the loss of the cages. These allies also captured photos of a Kona schooner leaving Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor with fish cages in tow, a large supply of feed on board and an Illinois Soybean Association flag flying high. So, we know that Kona has already been busy setting up their operation, even though they don’t yet have their “fishing” permit.
About the feed: The feed pellets are reportedly composed of fish meal (20%) and fish oil (10%), and agricultural oils and proteins such as soybean meal, corn gluten, wheat gluten, canola oil, poultry meal and poultry oil.
We also know that Kona will use soy feed in their fish cages and, given the stats, its likely to be genetically modified, an X factor that carries its own set of potential environmental and human health risks. Soybeans are a popular replacement for wild fish in aquaculture feed, and approximately 90 percent of soy grown in the United States — and 75 percent of soy produced worldwide — is genetically modified. There is already soy in much of the food we consume and increasing the amount of soy in the human diet by adding it the fish we eat is potentially troublesome due to the chemical compounds found in soy and their connection to certain types of cancer. As far the fish are concerned, soy — a land-based protein — is not a natural part of their diet and it could have a damaging effect on marine wildlife when uneaten feed and wastes pour from the cages into the ocean.
All of this news supports our position against granting Kona a “fishing” permit for this operation. It certainly shouldn’t bode well for Kona that, while on their way to the “fishing” hole, they lost their “fishing” poles.
Food & Water Watch has joined other organizations to oppose NOAA’s efforts to grant Kona a permit for their factory fish farm. Please join us in our fight to protect Hawaii’s coasts from ocean aquaculture. Stay tuned for updates as we follow this issue closely with our allies in Hawaii.