Food and Water Watch: Trick or Threat? Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to Approve Scary Ocean Fish Farming Plan Soon

OCTOBER 31, 2007
10:50 AM

CONTACT: Food and Water Watch
Erin Greenfield(202) 797-6550

Trick or Threat? Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to Approve Scary Ocean Fish Farming Plan Soon
Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter

WASHINGTON, DC - October 31 - “Today the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, an advisory body that helps create fishing regulations in the region, is meeting in Biloxi, Mississippi to discuss a plan that could allow destructive commercial-scale fish farming in Gulf of Mexico waters. This plan, which may be finalized as soon as January 2008, would allow corporations, the majority of which are expected to be foreign-based, to raise hundreds of thousands of fish in huge open water pens in gulf waters.

“We are concerned about the long-term implications of the plan as it’s currently being proposed by the Council, especially the health impacts on consumers, the harmful impacts on our ocean resources, and the negative economic impact on coastal communities. Specifically, the plan does not require royalties to be paid for the use of public resources for private profit, does not have strict environmental requirements, does not protect essential habitat and fishing grounds by requiring buffer zones around fragile places, and does not prevent using oil rigs for aquaculture. ”

“These serious concerns could threaten the half-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.

“Despite this, the Gulf Council has fast-tracked their plan since January, and has not fully considered the implications of their plan on the entire Gulf region. There has not been sufficient time for the citizens in the Gulf to participate in the decision process, and determine what the Council’s plan means to their region and their future.

“Before the plan is finalized, there needs to be greater public input, along with further research on potential damage to coastal communities and the marine environment. We should not rush decisions when it comes to the health of our communities and our oceans.”