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Gulf of Mexico to teem with fish in cages if farms okayed

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-10-07 10:18 AM
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Gulf of Mexico to teem with fish in cages if farms okayed
Gulf to teem with fish in cages if farms okayed

Technicians from Snapperfarm, started by an Eckerd College dropout, stand on top of a cage 2 miles off Puerto Rico. They harvest cobia, which grow to a marketable 10 pounds in about a year and tolerate tight spaces. One cage holds up to 70,000 pounds.

December 10, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - Imports satisfy 80 percent of America's seafood craving. Shrimp, salmon, tilapia and other favorites journey thousands of miles to reach our plates but still undercut local prices because they are grown on high-intensity fish farms.

The federal government now wants to fight fire with fire, using the Gulf of Mexico as a vast, offshore fish farming laboratory.
Regulations under consideration next month would allow underwater cages the size of an average McDonald's restaurant, spread in clusters over dozens of acres. With each cage holding 70,000 to 100,000 pounds of fish, just two 40-cage farms in deep water could produce as much fresh seafood as Florida's grouper fleet hauls ashore in a year.


Several environmental groups are leery.

Nearshore farming dramatically dropped global salmon prices but also polluted surrounding waters. Penned-in fish sometimes needed antibiotics and antiparasite medicine to survive. Non-native species, like the "Atlantic salmon" raised in Chile and British Columbia, sometimes escaped into the wild.
The proposed offshore rules "contain no specific pollution standards. We don't know what kind of effluent is going to be acceptable," said Maryanne Cufone, of Food and Water Watch. "We don't know what likely chemicals will be needed to keep the fish healthy and keep the cages free of fouling organisms. This is a new industry the federal government is trying to promote, but there is no reason to rush."


These issues will be debated tonight in St. Petersburg at a special public hearing. After similar hearings in three other states, the management council is expected to vote on the regulations in January.


The proposed rules would forbid non-native species and require that one-fourth of the brood stock change every year, so the gulf doesn't fill up with one, genetically vulnerable strain. But the rules do not specify where the farms would locate, raising the possibility that acres and acres of gulf bottom would be leased out and therefore be off-limits to competing fishermen.

If the Alaska salmon fishery is any example, plummeting prices might devastate Florida's already teetering commercial fishing fleet.
"If it's coming, it's coming. Our guys are not going to be able to stop it," said Bobby Spaeth, a Madeira Beach fish house owner who lobbies for commercial fishermen. "ConAgra or somebody like that is going to come in and make a big business of it.

"Maybe some of the guys will be able to get jobs tending the traps and pens."

Hope a lot of citizens can attend the meeting tonight in St. Pete to make their voices heard.

What: Public hearing to discuss offshore marine fish farming

When: 6 to 9 p.m.

Where: Comfort Inn, 2260 54th Ave. N, St. Petersburg

Who: Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-10-07 10:27 AM
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1. Farmed salmon . . . yeah, GREAT idea, guys . . . .
Let's keep on plowing through biomass so that we can enjoy $8.00 planks of "Atlantic" salmon at CostCo.

Fucking brilliant.
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-10-07 11:05 AM
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3. But the plankton farms....!
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The2ndWheel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-10-07 11:03 AM
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2. You know that old saying...
If you love something, let it go. Etc, etc, etc.

Obviously we do not love life. If we did, we would let it go, not even think about farming another form of life to fit our desires, and let life live.

But we don't. We cage it, farm it, do anything we can to keep it from evolving in whatever way the rest of life sees fit.

A death culture with a death wish.
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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-11-07 09:58 AM
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4. Update: Report of meeting in St. Pete last night on large-scale fish farming in the Gulf
Unlikely allies oppose gulf fish farming

December 11, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - From pollution, to hurricanes to animal cruelty, federal regulators got an earful Monday night from people worried about offshore fish farming in the Gulf of Mexico.


A public hearing Monday night, however, created a rare scene in fish-policy circles: About 70 commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen, environmentalists and just plain citizens - who are often adversaries - cheered each other on for a mutual cause.

They almost all hate the idea.

"This seems counterproductive to what we are trying to do with coastal pollution from the land. Now you are talking about putting it out in the ocean," said Cathy Harrelson of the Suncoast Sierra Club. "It's kind of like an IV. It goes straight in."


Though fish waste, excess feed and veterinary medicines have degraded water in some near-shore farms, like the salmon industry, regulators have said that aquaculture cages off Florida probably would be submerged 20 to 50 miles offshore. Currents would disperse any pollutants.
Though the proposed rules would forbid nonnative species, speakers wondered what would happen if thousands of fish bred from the same parents got out of their cages. "We live in the hurricane capital of the world," said Sal Versaggi, a Tampa shrimp processor. "What's going to happen to those pens in a hurricane? There is going to be escapement. What will happen with our wild stocks?"

Modern mariculture cages, about the size of four-bedroom houses, might hold 7,000 to 10,000 fish.


"This is not a mom-and-pop operation," said University of South Florida biologist John Ogden. "This is a major industrial operation and should be treated as such."
Though the proposed rules would eventually set standards for genetic diversity, health conditions and environmental monitoring, scientists don't know enough about the gulf's bottom, currents and creatures to keep proper tabs, Ogden said.


"This is going on in China. This is going on Mexico. If we don't put in regulations, it's going to be happening somewhere else," ( Melissa Thompson of the Institute for Biomedical Philosophy) said.

(What is THAT supposed to mean?? Just because China and Mexico do it, we must also? For crying out loud, give us a break.)

The management council may vote on the regulations at its next meeting in January, which will be held in St. Petersburg.
"There should be causes for concern. It's a new and untried area," said council member Bob Gill, a commercial fisherman from Crystal River who chaired the hearing.
"What the council is trying to do is define what is okay and what is not okay before someone comes in and wants to try it."

This is a foot in the door to behemoth corporations to steamroll in for profit, at the expense of our waters, our coastline and our local fishing industry. And that doesn't include the unintended consequences as yet unforeseen.

This must be opposed.

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