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NCMC: Aquaculture bill could endanger fisheries

US - On April 24, Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) introduced the National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007, H.R. 2010, in the House of Representatives. Rahall contends that he does not endorse the legislation, but introduced it as a courtesy to the White House.

The original 2005 Offshore Aquaculture Act, S.1195, never made it to the floor for a vote. Catering to industry, the 2005 bill would have established a streamlined regulatory framework for expediting aquaculture development in federal waters, from three to 200 miles off the coast. The bill likely stalled because of its lack of environmental safeguards, for which it was widely criticized by environmental groups and recreational and commercial fishermen alike.

In crafting the new bill, NOAA had hoped that the inclusion of an environmental requirements section would be enough to appease its critics. However, requests for the agency to conduct an assessment of the economic, social and ecological impacts of industrial-scale open ocean aquaculture and to incorporate adequate safeguards into statutory criteria went unheeded. Rather, the bill mandates that environmental standards for issuing permits be created through rulemaking, and a list of items to be "addressed" in the rulemaking is provided. Because impacts from offshore aquaculture have the potential to significantly harm the environment and fishery resources, permit requirements should be explicit and should be built into legislation. Furthermore, "addressing" risks and impacts on natural resources does not provide direction to eliminate or minimize these threats.

Source: Sport Fishing

the Fish Site Editor

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