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Coastal Desk

Fishing And Environmental Groups Sue NOAA Over Gulf Fish Farming

Royal Bream raises fish in a floating net in Marseille, France. This represents one type of farming technologies that could work in the Gulf.
NOAA, with permission from Giles Lemarchand.
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Royal Bream raises fish in a floating net in Marseille, France. This represents one type of farming technologies that could work in the Gulf.

Last month the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration opened the Gulf of Mexico for fish farming, or aquaculture. Now, some fishermen and environmentalists have filed a lawsuit against NOAA.

The Center for Food Safety filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Gulf Fishermen’s Association, Gulf Restoration Network, Charter Fisherman’s Association, Florida Wildlife Federation and others.

William Ward is a lawyer who represents many of the plaintiffs. He says they are upset about how raising fish in the Gulf will affect the environment and the fishing industry, and the problems it could cause.

There are unresolved “issues of pollution from feed, effluent, (and) antibiotics flowing out of the pens and into the wild species; parasites and other things.” Ward says. “This is the genie out of the bottle. Once the genie is out of the bottle, wild fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico will never be the same.”

Ward wants the rule thrown out or overseen by Congress. For now, it’ll stay in effect as the parties hash out the lawsuit.

NOAA included environmental safeguards in the new rule, but the lawsuit says it’s not enough. A representative for NOAA said the agency would not comment on ongoing litigation.

Support for WWNO's Coastal Desk comes from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Coypu Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation. 

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