The Word on Aquaculture

If the recently released Government Accountability Office report on aquaculture could be summed up in three words, they might be: Proceed with caution. Apparently a rush to build “sprawling complexes of floating pens, nets and cages in deep water miles offshore” might be something to consider carefully. You think?

According to a post on a Seattle P-I blog, there is pressure to expand fish farming—by breeders, and also by the White House. Last year the White House “pushed for the creation of the National Offshore Aquaculture Act, which would give the Commerce Department the authority to regulate offshore aquaculture.” Because coastal waters—from 3 miles to 200 miles offshore—are part of the United States’ Exclusive Economic Zone, any farming in this area falls under federal jurisdiction.

But no matter how eager the White House and farming concerns might be to supply farmed fish for the American dinner plate, the report says there are some big issues to work out first. Areas of concern include the need to develop fish foods that “do not rely heavily on harvesting wild fish; exploring how escaped offshore aquaculture-raised fish might impact wild fish populations; and developing strategies to breed and raise fish while effectively managing possible disease.”

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