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New Meaning for Organic Weakens its Name

by the Fish Site Editor
14 November 2008, at 12:00am

US - A proposed federal regulation certifying open-pen fish farms as 'organic' could water down the meaning of the term as well as have a devastating effect on the already-reeling commercial fishing industry.

The National Organic Standards Board, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will hold its fall hearings in Washington beginning Monday, reported ThePatriotLedger. The news agency said: "it is expected the boards Livestock Committee will make a favorable recommendation to allow open water aquaculture fish to carry the USDA Organic label".

There are several troubling aspects in the proposed regulations, chief among them is allowing wild fish meal to be used to feed the penned fish. To maintain healthy and marketable products, the fish need a diet high in Omega oils that can only be gotten through other fish sources.

According to the ThePatriotLedger, problem is no one can certify wild-caught fish is 100 percent organic and that would be the first crack in lessening the rules for organic feed for fish and animals.

Some aquaculture systems, such as those for salmon, are open, not contained. They are susceptible to diseases that can be spread, pollution and fish escapes that are not easily controlled or monitored in a standardized way.

Proponents of aquaculture as well as government supporters argue the organic designation, which is as much a marketing tool as it is a promise of purity, is necessary to help close the $9 billion trade gap in imported fish products.

the Fish Site Editor