NOAA: Fish farms can be sustainable

09 Jan 2014
NOAA says that the majority of finfish farms are sustainable Photo: NOAA

NOAA says that the majority of finfish farms are sustainable Photo: NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) says that its new report reveals specific types of fish can be farmed with minimal or no harm to the coastal ocean environment.

During the study, scientists from NOAA’s National Ocean Service evaluated the environmental effects of finfish aquaculture, including water quality, benthic habitats and marine life across various farming practices.

Dr James Morris, NCCOS ecologist, said: “We did this study because of concerns that putting marine finfish farms in the coastal ocean could have adverse effects on the environment.”

“We found that, in most cases, where farms are appropriately sited and responsibly managed, impacts to the environment are minimal to non-existent.”

NOAA said that the report called Marine Cage Culture & The Environment will help aquaculture managers develop regional best management practices and standardised protocols for environmental monitoring.

Jillian Fry, project director, Public Health & Sustainable Aquaculture Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said to World Fishing & Aqauculture: "The recent report from NOAA on marine finfish aquaculture is useful as agencies develop regulations for the industry, and stakeholders prepare to provide feedback on those regulations."

But Ms Fry pointed out that the report lacks any description of the risks to fish farm workers, social impacts, and environmental consequences beyond the farm. For example, there is no mention of the connection between harvesting small oily fish for aquaculture feed and declining global fish stocks.

The report also states that expanding domestic aquaculture production will reduce the country's reliance on imported seafood and increase food security.

"But it's unlikely to feed Americans who are food insecure or significantly reduce seafood imports. If NOAA wants to do more than give lip service to food security and public health, they need to include stakeholders working on these issues," she said.

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