It looks like the first permit to allow open ocean fish farming in the U.S. may soon be granted to a Hawaii-based company, Kona Blue Water Farms. If successful, several other companies are in line to start-up soon in waters surrounding the 50th state.
The announcement by NOAA has raised alarms with consumer protection groups, in particular Washington D.C.-based Food & Water Watch, which has been closely monitoring this relatively untested form of wild seas aquaculture.
While fish farming near shore proliferates around the world, mass producing fish in floating pens or cages in open ocean waters – and a variety of potential problems ranging from pollution to the spreading of disease – is just starting to gain scrutiny.
According to Food & Water Watch, NOAA is classifying the new form of aquaculture as a kind of fishing so that it “can claim it has authority to issue a permit for this new ‘gear type.’ “It’s outrageous that NOAA is equating … a dangerous, large-scale polluting method of farming fish with fishing.”
For its part NOAA insists it is time the U.S. gets busy in the open ocean and that with wild stocks down and demand up all kinds of aquaculture need to be on the table. Today Americans consume 5 billion pounds of seafood a year, 84 percent of which is imported, resulting in a trade deficit of about $9 billion.
(For the rest of my dispatch go to takepart.com)