Fish farming expansion plans being challenged

Written by on March 2, 2016 in Fish, Policy & Ocean Law

In January, NOAA announced its plans to expand aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico, but those plans are now being challenged.

Net pen aquaculture in deep coastal waters.

Net pen aquaculture in deep coastal waters. Photo credit: NOAA.

The decision to expand fish farming in the Gulf was made in order to meet the growing demand for seafood and increase job opportunities in the seafood industry. It will allow for up to 20 industrial facilities and a total of 64 million pounds of fish to be produced every year.

“This is all about managing and expanding seafood farming in an environmentally sound and economically sustainable way,” Michael Rubino, of NOAA Fisheries Office of Aquaculture, said in a news release. “The permit process we’ve laid out accounts for the region’s unique needs and opens the door for other regions to follow suit.”

Last month, however, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a new lawsuit challenging the ruling. CFS is representing many stakeholders in the Gulf of Mexico including Florida Wildlife Federation, Gulf Restoration Network, and several fishing associations and organizations.

“Offshore industrial aquaculture will cause irreparable harm to the Gulf ecosystems and coastal communities,” George Kimbrell, senior attorney for CFS and counsel for the plaintiffs, said in a news release. “We need to better manage and protect our native fisheries, not adopt destructive industrial food practices that put them at risk. This lawsuit, brought by a range of concerned stakeholders, aims to halt these shortsighted plans.”

CSF says the “questionable permitting scheme” is an effort to push industrial aquaculture without new laws.

“The U.S. Congress has never given express authority to NOAA/NMFS to enact such extensive and far reaching regulation. If this regulation goes into effect, the existing $15 billion recreational and commercial fishing industries will be forced to carry the burden of the damages that may come as a consequence,” said William Ward, Esq., of the William Ward Law Group, PLLC.

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Copyright © 2016 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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