Fishing industry groups and several dozen individual harvesters are calling on Congress to oppose any attempts to legitimize open net pen finfish aquaculture in the upcoming congressional session.
They contend in a letter sent to members of both houses on Dec. 4 that this type of fish farming will have long term impacts on their industry.
“The letter was signed by over 130 harvesters and industry groups from Washington State, California, Oregon, Alaska, Louisiana, New York, North Carolina, Maine, Massachusetts, and Maryland, including the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and Institute for Fisheries Resources.
“We are concerned about the economic burdens that aquaculture, an emerging industry, poses to our long-established industry, America’s oldest,” they wrote. “Marine finfish aquaculture facilities aim to produce large amounts of fish at the lowest cost possible, which places downward pressure on seafood prices, harming our wild capture seafood markets. Flooding the market with cheap, low quality farmed seafood reduces the price that consumers are willing to pay for wild and sustainable seafood products, which directly impacts our well-being as sustainable seafood producers and the overall coastal economy,” they said.
The letter was also critical of industrial ocean fish farming resulting in farmed fish escapes that can adversely impact wild stocks. “The culture of non-native fish brings attendant risks of introduction and invasion, while interbreeding of escaped aquaculture fish with wild stocks – a substantiated risk even with limiting cultivated species to ‘virtually’ sterile or all-female native stocks – can lead to the modification and dilution of wild stocks’ genetic integrity,” they said.
The letter also voiced concern over marine pollution caused by excess feed, untreated fish waste, antibiotics, and antifoulants. “Such pollution alters the surrounding ecosystem and harms wild stocks,” signers said.