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Concern Over Gulf of Mexico's Aquaculture Plan

MEXICO - Now federal regulators are poised to expand fish farming to open ocean, with the Gulf of Mexico as an experimental laboratory.

Cages would be huge and submersible, so hurricanes could blow over them without damage, reports St Petersburg Times.

According to the news organisation, niche commercial species like cobia, amberjack and redfish could reach widespread distribution, just like farm-raised tilapia exploded out of obscurity a few years ago. But as is always the case with fish matters, the move has stirred controversy.

Some fishermen worry that industrial farms that could raise 1-million pounds a year will undercut prices for wild fish, whilst environmental groups point to pollution and disease problems that have plagued near-shore fish farms in the past.

A letter signed by 112 groups complains that gulf fishing managers are making an illegal end-run around Congress, which has yet to agree on national offshore standards.

"It's clear that aquaculture has to be a part of the long-term seafood supply solution," George Leonard, director of aquaculture for the Ocean Conservancy, told St Petersburg Times. "But it has to be done in an environmentally acceptable way that does not add to the burdens we are putting on our marine and coastal systems."

the Fish Site Editor

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