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From Oil Rigs to Fish Farms

by Ellen Hardy
15 August 2008, at 1:00am

US - A new plan is looking into the possibility of turning the oil platforms into large-scale fish farms.

According to Ilana DeBare of the SF Gate, the proposal by the Minerals Management Survey, the federal agency in charge of offshore drilling, would also allow uses such as aquaculture.

On the surface, turning oil rigs into fish farms is an intriguing idea. It's re-using an existing resource; and it could help increase food supply at a time when many wild fish populations are dwindling.

Yet marine experts say there are potential pitfalls here too.

Ocean-based fish farms often release large quantities of fish waste, antibiotics and growth stimulants into the surrounding waters. And farmed fish invariably escape into the ocean, where they may crowd out their wild cousins, spread new diseases, or interbreed with wild fish and produce offspring that aren't hardy enough to survive.

And looking over the past eight years, environmentalists have no confidence that the Bush administration will handle the old oil rigs in a way that avoids such problems.

Ellen Hardy