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A Letter of Disapproval for Offshore Aquaculture Plan

US - Food & Water Watch has commended recent efforts in Congress to prevent the controversial Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council ocean fish farming plan from moving forward.

A bi-partisan ‘Dear Colleague' letter sent Friday urges U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Locke to disapprove the Council's plan to permit ocean fish farming in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico and work with the Congress to develop a comprehensive regulatory program for more sustainable aquaculture.

Food & Water Watch has applauded certain members of Congress for contesting the Gulf Council's offshore aquaculture plan and urging broad innovative discussion on a more sustainable aquaculture approach.

"The National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, both under the U.S. Department of Commerce, have been supporting the Council's decision since January 28, 2009, when the Council approved the plan. The 37 members of the U.S. House of Representatives opposed to the decision have made it clear that the Council does not have authority under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the primary law that governs fish in U.S. waters, to create regulations for ocean fish farming. If approved by the Department of Commerce, the Council's plan would set a bad precedent for a ‘piecemeal approach' in regulating aquaculture in the United States.

"Food & Water Watch agrees that the Gulf Council does not have jurisdiction over ocean fish farming and shares the concern that a fragmented approach to aquaculture regulation could result in potentially devastating environmental consequences. We also believe offshore aquaculture could threaten human health and the livelihoods of fishermen - serious problems that are not just limited to one region.

"Secretary Locke should consider the immense opposition to the Gulf Council's plan - from not only members of Congress, but also numerous conservation, fishermen, and consumer groups and many Gulf residents - and stop the Gulf plan in its tracks. The answer to solving our nation's rising seafood demand and overstressed wild fish populations does not lie in offshore fish farming. Rather, we should be researching more innovative aquaculture technologies, like land-based, re-circulating systems."

the Fish Site Editor

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