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NOAA to be sued over "industrial ocean fish farm" funding

6 June 2019, at 9:17am

Friends of the Earth and Center for Food Safety have formally accused the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of violating the Endangered Species Act for funding “an industrial ocean fish farm in violation of federal law”.

The groups sent a letter to NOAA notifying them of their intent to sue after NOAA’s Sea Grant program helped to fund a steelhead farm off the coast of New Hampshire.

The groups are against farming non-native species, such as steelhead, in Atlantic waters
The groups are against farming non-native species, such as steelhead, in Atlantic waters

A statement released by the NGOs explains: “According to a limited number of records gathered pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request, these funds were provided without fulfillment of Endangered Species Act mandates.”

“This project will have serious adverse consequences for federally endangered and threatened species and their critical habitat, yet Sea Grant never assessed those risks in any legally required consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), thereby resulting in ongoing violations of the ESA,” the groups write in the letter.

The formal notice points to a series of studies confirming that industrial ocean fish farms can have serious adverse consequences for federally endangered and threatened species and their critical habitats.

“We reminded NOAA of its federal mandate to complete environmental reviews before funding industrial ocean fish farms,” said Hallie Templeton, Senior Oceans Campaigner for Friends of the Earth. “NOAA continued to provide grants, while flouting the federal duties required by law. We will fight this with litigation to protect our endangered species and critical habitats.”

The formal notice of litigation follows a letter from the organizations in January 2018, which reminded NOAA of its duty to fulfill federal environmental laws prior to granting awards to industrial ocean fish farms. The organisations plan to file a lawsuit over these violations once the required 60-day notice period has passed.