For Immediate Release


Marianne Cufone or Erin Greenfield (202) 683-2500

Food and Water Watch

Gulf Council Walking on Thin Ice: Congressman Rahall Opposes Regional Ocean Fish Farming Plan

Statement of Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch Executive Director

WASHINGTON - "Food & Water Watch applauds Representative Nick Rahall (D-WV),
Chair of the House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee, for
strongly advising the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and the Gulf of
Mexico Fishery Management Council to stop approval of a regional plan
to permit offshore aquaculture in federal Gulf waters.  NOAA and NMFS
have been supporting the Council's action on the plan, based on a
questionable interpretation of current federal law.

to the letter sent yesterday by Congressman Rahall, the Council has no
authority under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and
Management Act, the primary law that regulates federal fisheries, to
create a commercial ocean fish farming industry in the Gulf.  This
mirrors the position Food & Water Watch has taken for more than a
year on the Council's plan. We also told the Council that they are
unable to make rules for all important aspects of ocean fish farming,
like controlling pollutants and what the fish are fed; therefore,
establishing this new industry through the Council process would be a
fragmented and incomplete approach.  Additionally, the Council's rules
may conflict with any national legislation that Congress could pass in
the future, wasting time, energy, and taxpayer dollars on a plan that
might be invalidated. 

"Given the various potential
environmental and economic problems, immense public opposition, and now
congressional concern with the Gulf Council's ocean fish farming plan,
Gulf Council members should vote "no" at their October 27-30, 2008
meeting when the plan is raised for a final decision."


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