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Offshore aquaculture in Gulf of Mexico

US - The environmental and economic consequences of a rushed plan to allow industrial fish farming in the Gulf of Mexico could threaten the half a billion dollar a year commercial fishing industries and the more than five billion dollars of annual economic activity connected to recreational fishing in the region.

A recent analysis by Food & Water Watch says that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council are developing a plan to divide up to rent out oceans to private businesses.

It may mean that foreign-based companies could invest and grow fish in large pens and cages in our waters.

"Such open ocean aquaculture in the gulf has the potential to be an environmental and economic disaster," said FWW Executive Director Wenonah Hauter

The group, which is also supported by two fishing organisations from the Gulf and Alaskan fishermen, says that the Gulf Council's plan - the Generic Offshore Aquaculture Amendment - fails to consider the negative economic consequences of ocean fish farming, off-shore around America's coast.

"Our wild fisheries are heavily scrutinised and regulated according to rigid national and regional standards, yet the Gulf Council and NOAA are willing to ease the way for aquaculture with too little regard for the environment, American jobs, or the security of our coastal communities," said Paula Terrel, a commercial fisherman who also works on fish farming issues for Alaska Marine Conservation Council.