Food & Water Watch Files Appeal in Factory Fish Farming Case
Consumer Group Reiterates That Federal Government Lacked Authority to Grant Permit for Aquaculture
Statement from Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
Honolulu, HI — “On behalf of its Hawaiian members, who include consumers, commercial and recreational fishermen and Native Hawaiians, advocacy group Food & Water Watch filed an appeal today in its case challenging the legality of Kona Blue Water Farms’ Velella aquaculture project in federal waters off of Hawai’i. This means that the federal district court’s decision allowing the permit will be reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Food & Water Watch strongly believes that aquaculture facilities should not be permitted in federal waters, especially when a regional fishery management council does not authorize them. We do not think this is what Congress contemplated when they enacted our nation’s fishing laws.
“Food & Water Watch and KAHEA filed a suit against NMFS in August, 2011 for issuing an illegal fishing permit for Kona Blue Water Farms’ aquaculture project. The suit contends that the federal government lacked the authority to grant the permit and failed to adequately assess the environmental impacts of the offshore aquaculture operations, as is required under federal law. NMFS contended that it could issue the permit under the federal fishery law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery, Conservation, and Management Act, which defines the term ‘fishing’ to also include ‘harvesting.’
“In her ruling last May, U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway approved NMFS’s issuance of a “fishing” permit to the aquaculture facility. The court found the issuance of the permit reasonable because ‘[t]he project involved the growing and gathering a ‘crop’ of almaco jack to sell for human consumption.’ In filing their appeal, Food & Water Watch is now asking the Ninth Circuit to review the validity of the district court’s decision.
“We hope that after the court of appeals reviews the law and the facts before it, it will conclude otherwise: that Kona Blue Water Farms’ permit was in fact illegal.”
Contact: Mitch Jones, Food & Water Watch, 202-683-2477