Administration calls for moratorium on U.S. fish farming

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
16 April 2007, at 1:00am

US - Gov. Sarah Palin is calling for provisions in the federal Aquaculture Act to prevent potential damage to Alaska's fisheries.

The legislation should include a five-year moratorium on new offshore aquaculture development, until environmental and socio-economic impacts are adequately evaluated, Palin said.

“Alaska's fishing industry has had great success in recent years by extolling the virtues of our wild seafood; we must make sure that any new federal laws don't muddle this message,” Palin said in a statement issued April 4.

The governor was commenting on an announcement issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in late March, saying it supports a proposed federal bill. The Bush administration's draft National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007 would open federal waters between three and 200 miles off the coastline of the United States to what is known as open-ocean aquaculture, or floating fish farms.

Palin outlined several specific concerns that she has, based on extensive public comment from Alaskans in recent years. They include marketplace confusion about Alaska's healthy, wild seafood, which could result in lost fisheries value; disease and parasite transmission; escapes and releases leading to potential colonization and genetic impacts; and environmental effects.

“The moratorium is needed because the potential impacts of offshore aquaculture to the environment and to our wild-capture fisheries are so great,” Palin said. “During the moratorium, the federal government should do scientific research and analyze the socio-economic effects on Alaska's communities and economy.”

The federal Department of Commerce should authorize only experimental aquaculture operations in support of this research and analysis during this five-year period, she said.

Source: Alaska Journal of Commerce