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U.S. seeks to allow fish farms in deep ocean waters

by the Fish Site Editor
10 March 2007, at 12:00am

WASHINGTON The Bush administration wants to allow ocean farming for shellfish, salmon and saltwater species in federal waters for the first time, hoping to grab a greater share of the $70 billion aquaculture market.

A plan being announced today by Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez would let companies operate fish farms three miles to 200 miles offshore, but without some of the rules on size, season and harvest methods that apply to other commercial fishermen.

Fish farms already operate on inland and coastal waters as far as three miles into the ocean, which fall under state jurisdiction.

Environmental concerns have arisen about wastewater generated by such operations. Gutierrez, however, said the administration's proposal had safeguards and would permit states to ban fish farming up to 12 miles off their coast.

'We believe we can do it in a way that is environmentally sound, that makes sense for our economy. And given that we are importing so much farm-raised fish, we might as well do it ourselves," Gutierrez told The Associated Press.

The plan, to be presented at the International Boston Seafood Show, would help the $1 billion U.S. aquaculture industry roughly double over the next few decades, he said. Globally, the $70 billion aquaculture business accounts for almost half the seafood consumed in the world today as wild fish stocks decline.

the Fish Site Editor