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Policy makers charge forward with plans to expand U.S. aquaculture

US - Like it or not, policy makers are charging forward with plans to expand U.S. aquaculture output five fold by 2020. Last week the Marine Aquaculture Task Force unveiled recommendations to help guide development of the new industry, which will let offshore fish farmers lay claim to vast parcels of the sea.

The farms will be colonies of undersea cages brimming with swimming livestock, anchored in U.S. waters from three to 200 miles from shore.

Above all, the task force urges Congress to create laws ensuring strong environmental standards are in place to regulate offshore fish farms. At a press conference last week, panel member Alison Rieser said existing laws won't work.

"There is a complex jurisdictional framework over ocean space. To some extent the laws cover the major issues of aquaculture expansion, but they are not well coordinated, there is overlap, and a number of serious gaps," said Reiser, a professor at the Univ. of Hawai'i and coauthor of the leading casebook on ocean and coastal law.

"There is no one lead federal agency that has the power to issue authorization for a private company to occupy a portion of the ocean space for commercial aquaculture and oversee potential impacts," she added.

The panel recommends that all authorities should go to NOAA Fisheries, and not to regional management councils. "It doesn't' seem prudent to have them consider how to balance aquaculture and wild capture fisheries," Reiser said.

Offshore fish farms should be limited to native species, said Becky Goldberg, senior scientist for Environmental Defense. The government should also promote reduction fisheries, or feeder fish, for the aquaculture industry, and develop alternatives to wild ingredient feeds.

Source: SitNews

the Fish Site Editor

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