Statement in Response to the Bush Administration's National Aquaculture Policy

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
13 March 2007, at 12:00am

PHILADELPHIA - As reported by the Associated Press today, Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez will unveil the Bush administration's offshore aquaculture policy at the International Boston Seafood Show on Monday, March 12.

The following is a statement by Christopher Mann, senior officer, environment at The Pew Charitable Trusts. Mr. Mann is an aquaculture expert who recently served as the executive director of the Marine Aquaculture Task Force, which released its recommendations for national aquaculture policy in January 2007.

"If done correctly, aquaculture can be an important and sustainable source of seafood. However, the scientific evidence shows finfish farming causes considerable damage to the marine environment. Before the federal government allows aquaculture in the open ocean, it must first address the substantial environmental problems that continue to plague the industry.

"Some forms of aquaculture, such as shellfish farming, contribute positively to the global seafood supply. Raising salmon or tuna as currently practiced does not appear to be environmentally sustainable. The Pew Charitable Trusts is particularly concerned about the dependence of marine fish farming on wild fish for food, which results in farmed fish consuming many times their weight in wild fish. This is no way to feed the world, as it ultimately reduces the amount of fish available for human consumption. In addition, escaped farmed fish can compete with wild fish, transmit disease, and harm the genetics of struggling wild fish stocks. This is no time to jeopardize the modest gains we are making in restoring wild fish populations.

"Until Congress and the administration address these concerns, it is imprudent to open our offshore waters to this new use. We cannot allow short- term economic interests to trump long-term conservation of our marine resources. We made this mistake in the past with the management of our fishing industry, and we are only now beginning to see some stocks recover.

Source: PR Inside