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Food and Water Watch: Ocean Fish Farms Swimming in Problems

NOVEMBER 9, 2007
12:50 PM

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

Ocean Fish Farms Swimming in Problems
New Study Reveals that Offshore Aquaculture Fails to Eliminate US Seafood Trade Deficit and Threatens Human Health and the Environment

WASHINGTON, DC - November 9 - Commercial-scale open ocean aquaculture will neither ease pressure on collapsing wild marine fish populations, nor eliminate our seafood trade deficit, according to a new report by Food & Water Watch. The U.S. government has been pushing to open public waters to offshore aquaculture – growing fish in nets or cages between three and 200 miles from shore.

“Offshore aquaculture is not ready for primetime,” said Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch Executive Director. “So far the industry has failed to demonstrate that the practice is environmentally sustainable, financially viable, or technically possible on a commercial scale.”

In the report, Fishy Farms, The Problems with Open Ocean Aquaculture, Food & Water Watch examines four taxpayer-funded fish farms in Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Puerto Rico that have been plagued by problems.

“We’re concerned not only about how offshore aquaculture will be detrimental to our marine resources, but how it will impact our coastal communities and the economy, “ Hauter said. “This industry will cause more problems than it proposes to solve.”

Offshore aquaculture proponents claim that opening our oceans to these industrial fish farms will lessen the U.S. seafood trade deficit. However, that is false. This deficit is not a supply problem because U.S. fishermen already harvest enough fish to satisfy more than half of domestic consumption. In addition, the fish raised in the aquaculture operations would reach only a small portion of the market – fine dining restaurants that serve high-end seafood.

“Instead of promoting an industry that could ultimately exacerbate our marine fisheries’ problems, our government should be establishing ocean protection to not only protect marine life, but also create safe and sustainable seafood for American consumers,” Hauter said.

The full report can be viewed at


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