For Hawaii, New Bills on Ocean Fish Farming are Two Steps Forward, and One Step Back

For Immediate Release

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Contact: 

Seth Gladstone – sgladstone@fwwatch.org

For Hawaii, New Bills on Ocean Fish Farming are Two Steps Forward, and One Step Back

Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter

WASHINGTON - "This week, three bills were introduced in the Hawaii State Legislature
that have the potential to significantly impact the integrity of
Hawaii's ocean resources, and the vital role they play in the state's
economy and lives of its residents.

"Introduced by
Representatives Mele Carroll (D-13), Faye Hanohano (D-4) and Hermina
Morita (D-14) HB 2958, the "Hawaiian Cultural Practices and Marine
Resources Protection Act of 2010" would place a moratorium on the
development of new commercial offshore aquaculture operations in state
waters, from the coastline out to three miles from shore. The two
existing facilities in Hawaii would be allowed to continue operations
until they decide to end production, but could not transfer permits to
another owner. While aquaculture research activities could continue, no
further commercial operations would be approved by the state.

"Ocean
fish farming, the mass production of fish in floating pens or cages in
ocean waters, is associated with many well documented ecological
problems - water pollution, spread of diseases and parasites,
interference with marine mammals and more. In Hawaii, such facilities
also conflict with native cultural rights and practices. Food &
Water Watch applauds these Representatives for taking a stand to stop
the reckless and unnecessary expansion of the ocean fish farming
industry in Hawaii.

"A second bill directly addresses the need
to understand potential impacts from ocean fish farms and recognizes
that aquaculture facilities operate using public resources. SB 2486,
"Related to Submerged Lands Leasing, introduced by Senators Brickwood
Galuteria (D-12), Robert Bunda(D-23), David Ige (D-13), and Michelle
Kidani (D-17) would require that all offshore aquaculture applicants
complete an Environmental Impact Statement, and that a royalty payment
based on a percentage of their gross sales be made to the state. Food
& Water Watch supports SB 2486 because it closes the loophole
allowing offshore aquaculture operators to obtain permits without a
thorough review of potential impacts they could cause.

"While we
support the efforts of these first two bills, a third bill fails to
safeguard Hawaii's marine resources, consumers and indigenous cultures.
Rather, it promotes long-term corporate exploitation of resources. HB
2409, "Relating to Aquaculture", introduced by Representative Clift
Tsuiji (D-3), increases lease terms for aquaculture ventures from 35
years to 45 years, allowing for a maximum term of 65 years for those
with so-called ‘favorable' track records.  Given documented cases of
environmental damage and disregard for cultural rights, further
extending the time for these corporations to reap private profits from
public natural resources is irresponsible.

"Tsuiji's bill does
not serve the best interests of Hawaii's natural and cultural
resources. Restoring traditional fish ponds and implementing land-based
recirculating aquaponic systems are two sustainable and culturally
appropriate technologies for raising fish. We urge policy makers in
Hawaii and elsewhere to explore these innovations, in place of
encouraging the perpetuation of an industry that can do more harm than
good."

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Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

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