Gulf Of Mexico Open For Fish-Farming Business – NPR

NOAA continues its promotion of the aquaculture fish farming industry. Since the government destroyed huge swaths of the Gulf with its lack of stiff enforcement of oil drilling, now it has decided that fish farming there is a great idea. No environmentalists  anywhere in the world that have looked at this industry think it’s a good idea. And the fish farming industry and NOAA are targeting  opening  up the Salish Sea for more fish farming also.  Their science on it, when you read it, is missing key issues of investigation, such as long term affects of the bottom and the general larger habitat around the fish. The experience of fish farming in British Columbia, Norway and other locations, is one of vast overuse of antibiotics, needed because of dense packing in the cages, which create a vector for disease, like sea lice infestations that are infecting wild stocks that pass by the cages. Escaped farm fish compete with native species, coverups of massive problems with disease by the highly secretive farming industry and smear campaigns for highly credible scientists and their labs, including using the Government of Canada to arbitrarily shut down the labs involved after they publish their results (under the Harper and Christie government two and three  years ago) and a basic lack of concern for anything but their own bottom lines. While I support much of what NOAA does, this area is very suspiciously looking like it has been corrupted by the industry that it is supposed to be impartially regulating.

This is yet another example of a Democratic administration doing exactly what we would expect from a Republican one. It is the kind of arrogance towards our shared environment and the people of the Gulf that fuels the anger of the electorate towards Washington D.C. and the administrators there that choose business over the environment time and time again.  It’s worth remembering that Obama opened up offshore oil drilling against environmentalists concerns just weeks before the Gulf Spill in March 2010, saying it was ‘safe’ and that we had great safeguards. He was proven wrong in May of that year. He has since reopened drilling off the coast, even after the BP spill, against the wishes of Governors of those coastal states affected by the decision. Now he is opening up Gulf waters for large scale fish pens. We are also targeted for that same treatment, as fish farms are proposed west of Port Angeles at present time. The State demanded that counties not ban fish farming in their Shoreline Master Programs, and actually have held up approval of the Jefferson County SMP over that very issue. Luckily we have had Phil Johnson an ex-fisherman, fighting this issue with the State, but at present it is still legal to open a fish farm in Jefferson County, over the objections of both a scientific panel and a citizen advisory group of 20 citizens that included a shellfish farmer. When I questioned the previous head of the State of Washington Department of Ecology, he had no idea that it was even a problem worth addressing. The latest head of DOE is a lawyer as well as an administrator and she is unwilling to seriously discuss reversing her department’s decision.

To be clear, while I’m  disappointed in the administration for allowing this, voting in the opposition will simply make it worse, as the Republicans have never seen an environmental law they like. Just look at Flint Michigan for a great example of Republican oversight of the environment.  Our best efforts are to fight decisions like this in the courts, contact our representatives to make them aware of the public feelings on the issue, make it an issue at elections, and elect people like Phil Johnson who will fight against the influence of big money industries trading off the environment and our wild fish for short term profits.

To their credit, NPR does point out the  criticisms of this decision.

The Gulf of Mexico is now open for commercial fish farming. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced last month that, for the first time in the U.S., companies can apply to set up fish farms in federal waters. The idea is to compete with hard-to-regulate foreign imports. But opening the Gulf to aquaculture won’t be cheap, and it could pose environmental problems. Tegan Wendland reports. (NPR)

4 Responses

  1. I am far from a fan of farm raised fish, but the massive negative environmental impact that you speak of is simply unfounded. Fish farms are far from the end of the world. They in many cases benefit a community by providing jobs and a viable renewable food source. By the way if you think Democrats are any different than Republicans your mistaken. Government as an institution is about one thing and one thing only. MONEY! Who to steel it from and who to give it too.

    John Snyder


    • John, Thanks for your thoughts. I would love to see the science you claim is not there on this issue. I will point you to a lecture by Professor Lawrence Dill of Simon Fraser University.

      the second part is also at that location. Alexandra Morton has also done extensive research on the issue.

      Our government, through our tax dollars and at the peoples of this regions insistence, is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on salmon recovery, both in fish and habitat restoration. If there is scientific concerns about the efficacy of farmed fish, produced only to enrich a small number of share holders of private companies, I think that is worthy of hitting the pause button and seriously questioning whether we want to go forward with this, and are our representatives who promote this even aware of the risks? As stated, I have personally talked to one of our recent DOE heads, and Phil Johnson has talked to both him and the current one, Maia Bellon, and they are unaware and unconcerned about the issue!

      Certainly I was not trying to state that there is a huge difference from Ds or Rs on this issue. I’m not quite a cynical (yet) about government being about theft, as I have seen a great many projects that were created by sensibly used tax dollars. I think that many people assume these days that taxes are a bad thing, something to be ‘reduced’. Most of our country was grown by and created by sensibly used taxes. Today, however, with over half our budget being spent on military spending, it makes it increasingly difficult to find enough money to do projects that benefit a wide variety of people. And things are getting worse. A good example is our current issue with the Supreme Court nominee to replace Judge Scalia. On November 11 1987 ,the Democratically controlled Senate allowed Ronald Regan to appoint, Judge Anthony Kennedy and he was then confirmed to fill the vacancy on February 3, 1988. Almost exactly this week. Mitch McConnell voted to approve the nominee, and the final vote was 97-0. To see the R’s refusing to accept the president’s budget, and insisting that he not be allowed, as the Constitution itself gives him the authority to do, is a pathetic example of where politics, and especially Republican politics has devolved to. So please think about statements like “Government is only about stealing money from someone and giving it to someone else.” I just don’t accept that, and taxes are not stealing.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Ha! Thanks for the catch. It must be a mental block with me.

  3. Excellent article as usual. Also as usual: misuse of “it’s”, which means “it is” and not “its” (a possessive pronoun).

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: