Fishing industry says no to net pen finfish

A group of fish harvesters and seafood industry entities is urging Congress to oppose attempts to legitimize open net pen finfish aquaculture, as proposed in fish farming legislation introduced in late September.

The target of their Dec. 4 letter to Congress is the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture Act, or AQUAA Act, introduced in September by Representatives Steven Palazzo, R-Miss, and Collin Peterson, D-MN. The House bill is a companion piece to legislation of the same name filed earlier in the year by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., to give the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration regulatory authority over fish farming in federal waters.

Signers of the letter, including Cordova fisherman William Markowitz of the F/V Canvasback, contend that “the presence of finfish aquaculture in marine ecosystems poses significant challenges to the prosecution of domestic wild capture fisheries. Copies of the letter were delivered to every member of Congress this past week as some of the fishermen paid a visit to Capitol Hill. The letter was also released to news media by Friends of the Earth.

“As commercial fishermen, our livelihoods depend on good stewardship and science-based marine conservation to preserve sustainable fisheries for generations to come,” they wrote. “American commercial fishing and marine finfish aquaculture cannot coexist.”

“The presence of a single marine finfish farm could bar access to hundreds of acres of marine space, which would no longer be available for us to navigate or fish,” they said.

The group contends that aquaculture harms the accessibility and quality of wild fish stocks they depend on, and that industrial ocean fish farming inevitably results in farmed fish escapes that can adversely impact wild stocks


They also noted that marine finfish aquaculture facilities aim at producing large amounts of fish at the lowest cost possible, which places downward pressure once and for all on seafood prices, harming wild capture markets.