Rep. Rahall to Help Stop Harmful Offshore Fish Farms
A new bill introduced by Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), H.R.3534, includes language crucial to prevent development of offshore aquaculture , the mass-production of fish using open net pens or cages located about three to 200 miles offshore , in U.S waters. Also known as ocean fish farming, open water aquaculture and other similar terms, the approach to growing fish in ocean waters has been a hot topic for some time. Effects of such an industry, including serious ecological problems and the loss of many fishing and related jobs, are well-documented from similar operations worldwide. The bill, entitled the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act of 2009, includes an important section that would prevent the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the primary agency tasked with conservation and management of ocean resources, and Regional Fishery Management Councils, bodies that help make regulations for fishing, from developing plans to allow offshore aquaculture. The bill would be an important step in stopping these destructive operations from expanding in the U.S.
Food & Water Watch congratulates and supports Senator Rahall on introducing this language, and looks forward to the bill going forward. We further urge that the scope of this provision be expanded to include all relevant agencies‚Äîincluding Army Corps of Engineers and Minerals Management Service,and to exempt the live rock industry (which supplies rock and coral for aquariums) and appropriate experimental aquaculture operations. These expansions would allow research to continue, but would prevent agencies whose jurisdiction is elsewhere from creating rules to facilitate the industry‚ establishment on a commercial scale.