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)
Filed under: Puget Sound, Aquaculture, Fish Farming, Net Pens Aquaculture, Government Legislation | 2 Comments »