Christopher Mann, senior officer at the Pew Environment Group, today issued the following statement in response to NOAA's approval of a plan to authorize industrial-scale aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Open-ocean fish farms pose significant environmental threats to our marine ecosystems. Approval of offshore aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico without the establishment of science-based and precautionary national standards is a recipe for disaster.
“There's no shortage of scientific evidence showing the serious damage caused by large-scale aquaculture to marine environments. Disease and pollution from the discharge of untreated waste continue to plague fish farms worldwide. And the use of wild fish in aquaculture feeds puts additional pressure on struggling fish stocks.
“This plan would allow offshore fish farming to be regulated under the law intended to manage wild fish populations, not farmed fish. In addition, moving forward with a piecemeal approach to marine aquaculture regulation could undermine the president's goal of developing a national ocean policy.
“Before aquaculture permits are issued, NOAA needs to devise regulations to implement the management plan. We urge NOAA to defer development of those regulations until consensus on national standards for offshore aquaculture emerges.”