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#223696 - 12/24/03 06:06 PM Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms
Dave Vedder Offline
Reverend Tarpones

Registered: 10/09/02
Posts: 8587
Loc: West Duvall


L ook out at the boundless ocean, and envision a new Iowa -- homesteaded by fish farm colonies bigger than downtown Portland, with row upon row of undersea cages roiling with swimming livestock.
From Our Advertiser

It's a dream of seafood visionaries, and the Bush administration is laying the foundation for it.

Federal officials are drafting legislation to let fish farmers lay claim to parcels of sea, just as pioneers laid claim to acreage in the unsettled West. Expected to head to Congress next year, it would apply to federal waters from three to 200 miles offshore -- an immense region outside state jurisdiction and bigger than the entire land area of the continential United States.

The move underscores U.S. government aims to expand fish farming in the United States fivefold by 2025. At that rate, the value of farmed seafood would surpass that of the nation's wild catch. Commercial fishing may become one of the last of the hunting and gathering traditions.

With salmon prices depressed, the new breed of farms may raise more marketable species: cod, halibut, black cod, red snapper, shellfish and more. Nobody imagines it would all happen right away, but over time, fishing boats could give way to bargelike cage complexes that hover below the waves -- safe from storms -- before rising up on floats come harvest time.

Unlike land, oceans have long been viewed as a common resource. The new legislation would grant businesses exclusive use of the sea under leases that may run 20 years, signaling the United States' plans to embrace an aquaculture boom sweeping the world.

"It would be sort of industrializing the oceans to produce things, and that's a brand-new idea for people," says Richard Hildreth, director of the Ocean and Coastal Law Center at the University of Oregon.

Fish farmers speak in dreamy terms of "blue pastures" ready to be sown. Offshore farming can reduce the nation's rising dependency on imported seafood, they say. More than 75 percent of seafood eaten in the United States comes from abroad, much of it raised on farms that may lack rigorous health and environmental standards.

"It's a food security issue," says Conrad Mahnken of the NOAA-Fisheries Northwest Fisheries Science Center near Seattle, who is working on the new legislation. "It's difficult to know the quality of our food when we don't control where it comes from."

This is the fish farming vision.

But many Northwest fishermen see it as the first step toward privatizing the oceans, undermining fishing communities and handing over public waters to industry. A bill in Congress would also let oil companies avoid the cost of removing marine drilling platforms -- and claim tax breaks -- by converting them to free-standing fish farms.

Fish farming today could open the door to eventual leasing of the ocean for garbage dumping or other damaging uses, critics say.

"This is one of the largest public trusts we have," says Jeremy Brown, a salmon and albacore troller in Bellingham, Wash., who is trying to rally others against the movement. "Industry and the administration are looking at it and saying, 'How can we cash in?' "

On the far north coast of Norway, amid an Arctic landscape covered in snow much of the year, a laboratory is developing fish for the sea farms of tomorrow.

Anyone entering the chilly basement room full of conical tanks swirling with finger-sized cod must first don sterile slippers. The Norwegian government has invested $3 million in these pale gray fish -- the first generation of a national breeding program for cod.

Six researchers, including geneticists and molecular scientists who can scrutinize the tiniest bit of DNA, track the fish daily to select those best suited to farm life. Traits such as growth rate, disease resistance and adaptability to confined spaces all figure in.

Farmers have long sorted cows and chickens in similar ways, and Norway has become the most proficient farmer of high-value fish. The Scandinavian country has mastered salmon farming and exported it around the world.

Cod, a worldwide staple, may be next, especially with wild stocks in steep decline.

"We are realizing that captures of wild cod may never be much greater than they are today," says Arne Arnesen, director of aquaculture research for the Norwegian Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture Research, which operates the breeding center on the island Ringvassoy. "There is now room for more farmed species."

Down the laboratory's hallways, tanks burble with tiny, transparent lemon sole, mean-toothed wolffish, sea urchins, king crab and more -- all species that may have a future on farms.

When it comes to aquaculture, countries including Norway, Japan and Chile have left the United States in the dust. Fish farming is expanding around the world by about 10 percent a year, but by only 2 percent in the United States, says Linda Chaves, director of the office of constituent affairs at National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration-Fisheries.

"Why should the economic advantages of these farming operations accrue to other countries if they could accrue here?" she asks. "We would like to be the leaders in establishing what the environmental standards should be globally, but right now we're not a player at the table."

As the federal agency charged with building aquaculture, NOAA-Fisheries has sunk cash -- more than $3 million last year -- into making the United States a player. Grants and loans have gone to hopeful fish farmers and researchers designing new cages to stand up to rougher seas offshore, where currents may supply cleaner water, and to solve disease and escape problems.

It plans to pay a New Hampshire company $289,774 to develop a U.S. strain of cod for farming.

But as near-shore fish farms clash with seaside residents and activist groups, NOAA-Fisheries thinks the only way fish farming can fulfill its promise is to move farther offshore.

Marine farming will take place in something called the Exclusive Economic Zone, or EEZ. It begins where state waters end, three miles from shore, and extends 200 miles from the coast. It lies under federal jurisdiction, yet no federal agency is entirely in charge of it.

That means fish farmers trying to set up shop crash into a bureaucratic wall: No federal law covers the leasing of ocean for fish farms or provides for environmental safeguards.

In 1987, a company called American Norwegian Fish Farms Inc. wanted to occupy 50 square miles of ocean 37 miles off Massachusetts and build 90 pens that would hold 45 million pounds of salmon. But, facing repeated regulatory struggles over several years, the company gave up.

The new blueprint for aquaculture would outline a straightforward process for the secretary of commerce to grant permits. It's unclear whether environmental standards that apply on land would extend offshore -- or what controls would limit escapes, fecal waste and use of drugs. Salmon farms in operation worldwide face few restrictions on the management of huge volumes of waste. But the government would set up new standards through a public rule-making process, Chaves said.

Just as land grants encouraged settlers and railroads to develop the American West more than a century ago, rights to the sea are seen as a vital incentive to persuade fish farms to expand offshore.

An early draft of the new fish farming legislation, obtained by The Oregonian, authorizes the secretary of commerce to lease sections of ocean for fish farming for up to 20 years. Farmers would pay the government royalties of one-half of one percent of the sale price of their fish.

A report funded by NOAA-Fisheries suggests zoning the ocean, like national forests, into sections suited for commercial use, recreation and other purposes. Some regions might become "aquaculture parks" -- after industrial parks on land -- where many fish farms could operate together.

A possible location in the Northwest would be the Strait of Juan de Fuca, outside Puget Sound, said Dan Swecker, executive director of the Washington Fish Growers Association.

"If you could do it on a massive enough scale, it could be worthwhile," he says. "It would take major investment."

Fishing and recreational uses would likely be restricted in leased waters, creating perhaps the first example of a private business mandate for U.S. waters.

Farmers, the legislation says, must use "best available and safest technologies" to protect public health and the environment. But it offers a loophole rarely seen in federal regulation -- the best technologies would not be required if incremental benefits are "clearly insufficient to justify" the costs.

Officials have since revised the legislation, but would not release the latest version until it is cleared by the administration.

Fishermen fear leasing will shut them out. Farming proponents say that's unlikely, however, since farms need not be big to be prolific.

"You can produce huge volumes of fish in a relatively small area," Chaves says. "I would be shocked, stunned and amazed if we ever had huge fish farms blanketing our EEZ."

But it is difficult to tell where the limits might be. NOAA-Fisheries, a branch of the Department of Commerce, is vying for the role of regulating ocean fish farming while also promoting it. The agency has made marine aquaculture a top priority for $6 million worth of grants in the next two years.

Some of that would go toward engineering cage systems that could stand up to battering by the sea. One of the pioneers is Ocean Spar Technologies of Bainbridge Island, Wash., which sells $100,000 saucerlike cages that remain submerged and can be tethered almost anywhere currents allow it. Almost 20 are in use around the world, and the cage has proved sturdier than the fish inside it, said aquaculture manager Langley Gace.

"It's like being in outer space," he said. "You're out away from everything, so you really have to plan ahead."

The ultimate obstacle to offshore fish farming, however, is higher cost. With salmon prices depressed by oversupply, companies are looking into more valuable species. As they move farms toward the horizon, they also may compensate by raising lots and lots of fish.

"The industry is going to develop whether we like it or not," says Chaves. "We would like to ensure it's done in an environmentally sound manner. We can't do that unless we're at the table."

Michael Milstein: 503-294-7689;
No huevos no pollo.

#223697 - 12/24/03 06:36 PM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms
Fishingjunky15 Offline

Registered: 03/22/03
Posts: 874
Loc: Puyallup, WA
It would cut back on netting but is it possible? I could see this as a huge source of food in the future. I actually think that this is a good idea but I don't believe that it could be as large as the artical talks about.
They say that the man that gets a Ph.D. is the smart one. But I think that the man that learns how to get paid to fish is the smarter one.

#223698 - 12/24/03 06:39 PM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms
Rob Allen Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 05/10/03
Posts: 318
Loc: Vancouver WA
Thats so lame.. we need tio start the days where if you want a salmon to eat you go catch it yourself I am sick of all the destruction in the name of free enterprise.

#223699 - 12/24/03 06:43 PM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms
Iron Head Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 12/12/00
Posts: 450
Loc: tacoma, Washington, US
I support all aquacultures.
This sounds like a good plan eventhough way behind the asian countries.
The result of aquacultures will definitely impact the commercial market.
Know fish or no fish.

#223700 - 12/24/03 07:16 PM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms
Huntar Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 06/23/99
Posts: 400
Loc: Yakima, WA
They do the exact same thing on land with almost every animal raised for food. Cattle, hogs, chickens and the list goes on. Why fish-farming has never become bigger than it already is, is what really suprises me the most.
If something isn't done now, what will happen in twenty or thirty years. Ultimately, this may be the only thing that saves the wild salmon and steelhead.
History tells us that when food or other demands are high enough, the animals in demand will be the ones to suffer. Look at the American Bison ("Buffalo") the Eastern Elk, Ducks and other animals that have been commercially hunted. Until the commercial hunting was stopped they were doomed. Luckily, many of them have since recovered.

#223701 - 12/24/03 07:25 PM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms
stlhdhntr Offline

Registered: 12/22/03
Posts: 19
Loc: hockinson
the only question i have about doing this is the genetic engenireeing that is done to make a fish more desiarable for the companys that produce them. it is just like farmed salmon, no one wanted to tell you that they have to put food coloring in them to make them that pretty color until everybody raised a stink about it. steve

#223702 - 12/24/03 09:45 PM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms
Iron Head Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 12/12/00
Posts: 450
Loc: tacoma, Washington, US
The food coloring used for farmed raised fish is natural.
This stuff is usually called NutuRose.
Alot of people are very ignorant when it comes to feed and they'll jump when an ingredient is hard to pronounce or sounds funny.
Just because something is added to the feed does not always mean it will hurt you.

Just think about the vitamins you are taking daily. It does not grow out from a tree.
In deed it is all man made in a lab.
Same thing.
Of course there are a few things which are dangerous too.
Just look for the FDA approved and do a little research before you follow the "Red Herring".
Know fish or no fish.

#223703 - 12/24/03 10:04 PM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms

Iron head is right on!

I worked on a project that was to build an algea raising farm in hawaii. The algea was grown and added as a suplement to farmed fish food to naturally enhance the color of the flesh. It was the same substances they get in the ocean.

O natural... Except for maybe the little bio engineering that was involved... J/k...

I personally think that without some sort of fish farming on a large degree we will either wipe out certain species of fish or totally disrupt the food chain and screw up every species of fish. My only concern is with the environmental impact. Something like this has to be in the ocean and near good currents to distribute the wastes over large areas.

#223704 - 12/25/03 12:37 AM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms
Predator Dawg Offline

Registered: 10/03/00
Posts: 560
Loc: land of sun
This seems like a good direction to go relative to fish harvest and having more available at the markets may make for a healthier populous down the road. The point where I cringed is when they mentioned the straights as being ideal. Say what? Those tides go both ways so for almost half of every day all the waste bi-products from these farms would be blowing into the Puget Sound region. Not sure you need to be a biologist to understand what will come from that after a few years.

Off shore, away from the mouth of the straights, and out a few miles would seem to be the appropriate location. Let the open ocean wash that stuff away, not push it into our bays where alot of the clams, oysters, etc. are.

#223705 - 12/25/03 12:41 AM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms
John Lee Hookum Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 10/12/01
Posts: 2505
Loc: Area 51
Great! Frankenfish, feeding the Clones and the Test tube Frankenbabies of tomorrow.

Maybe we should take a more through look at artificial reproduction, overpopulation and other issues, before we are forced to freak out the Planet and it's resources. If you can't naturally produce a kid, don't go have Dr. Frankenstein and order take-out, 5 at one time, in a test tube. Would you like fries with those babies? Not! rolleyes Those that do are going against the Laws of Nature, which keeps things in check and weaknesses out of the bloodline and species. Can we keep up with the feeding of so many artificial but real appetites? Probably can but at what cost? They are here folks and in great numbers. It's is now a cottage industry. From genetically modified grains, feeding Clone animals and Humans (Organic and Non-Organic), to in the near future, impregnating men with artificial wombs, to add to our gene pool. Hello!

Reasoning starts at the top and encourages understanding and education at the grass roots level. Who knows what the impact will be of in-breed Cloned and Test Tube individuals, dating the Son's and Daughters of Natural or Organic people, having babies and everybody eating their frankenfood? eek There goes the neighborhood.

Just hope they come out with labels to identify the Organic from Non-organic amongst us. That is sure to be a battle and could cause the next really big war for all the marbles. "Clones vs. Non-Clones, Organic vs. Non- Organic". The year 2060 AD or sooner at this rate. The winners gets to eat the losers, as in Solent Green. Remember that movie, Sci-fi fans? eek

We need to look for solutions within ourselves and the choices we make.

Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of
Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter
of the gods.

-- Albert Einstein

#223706 - 12/25/03 12:46 AM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms

John Lee,
You must not trust you fish catching ability if you think you will have to buy genetically altered fish from a fish farm...

:p laugh

#223707 - 12/25/03 12:57 AM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms
John Lee Hookum Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 10/12/01
Posts: 2505
Loc: Area 51

lol! I do catch plenty of fish and usually have a freezer full. I have a spare freezer just for the purpose of making sure I have plenty of the good stuff. I vacuum pack and smoke it when needed but give a bunch to friends or people I care about.

Got Fish? You bet.


Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of
Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter
of the gods.

-- Albert Einstein

#223708 - 12/25/03 08:50 AM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms
eddie Online   content

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 2337
Loc: Valencia, Negros Oriental, Phi...
Caution is highly warranted here. Ask a cattle rancher how many head he can run on a given piece of land and he will give you a very dialed in answer - 1 cow per 2 acres, 3 cows per 4 acres, etc. Can anyone honestly estimate the carrying capacity of the sea? If there is a collapse in the food chain all creatures that depend on that chain (our own salmon and steelhead included) will suffer. On first blush, this seems like a possibility to removing the commercial overharvest of the fish we love, however, beware the law of unintended consequences.

Merry Christmas!
"You're not a g*dda*n looney Martini, you're a fisherman"

R.P. McMurphy - One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

#223709 - 12/25/03 10:26 AM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms
grandpa2 Offline
Three Time Spawner

Registered: 06/04/03
Posts: 1796
Loc: Brier, Washington
Nice measured response Eddie...I'm sorry to see the world coming to survival by artificial means but remember that most of the world is populated by hundreds of millions of people who could careless about the environment and would do anything for a buck or to survive. Overpopulation and overconsumption worldwide is resulting in a major disastrous crash in fisheries. We focus on the Pacific NW but elsewhere the depletion of fish stocks has reached crisis proportions.

This article exaggerates the scope of the fish farm idea I think. I haven't heard of this before and will read more about it. Other nations are already on this bandwagon and I'm sure the US will follow to a greater degree in the future. I don't think this issue should be debated in the sense of Bush bashing as it is ultimately a non-partisan problem.

Rob I see you are still hoping for that euphoric dreamland full of nothing but wild fish ..Hope you find it someday..Think of a way to eliminate about a billion people from the earth and it might happen sooner than later. I must say I would rather see that than squeezing artificial salmon paste out of a tube .
Join Puget Sound Anglers Today and help us support sports fishing.

#223710 - 12/25/03 01:43 PM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms
stlhdhntr Offline

Registered: 12/22/03
Posts: 19
Loc: hockinson
no offense folks, just because something is made in a lab doesnt meen it is good for you (fish, medicine or otherwise). i feel that we should research and find out what exactly can happen. i personnally like to a good amount of research even before i take a medication. it's an old habit from working in the medical proffesion. just because someone says something is safe does'nt mean that is good for everyone. the other concern i have as someone stated is the waste that would be created. i would be curious if they had modeled this after some the existing fish farms so that i could study a little more about it, since i dont have all the info. to honestly make the most informed decision. not trying say that it is good or all bad just some random thoughts that pooped into my head as i read the article. happy holidays by the way. steve

#223711 - 12/25/03 01:44 PM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms
cowlitzfisherman Offline
Three Time Spawner

Registered: 06/14/00
Posts: 1866
Loc: Toledo, Washington

Is the taste of the bait worth the sting of the hook????

#223712 - 12/25/03 05:40 PM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms
stlhdhntr Offline

Registered: 12/22/03
Posts: 19
Loc: hockinson

very interesting thought. i cant say i have had anybody put it that way before. i agree our population isnt going down anytime soon. so yes we should look at other possobilities to feed ourselves. like said i would just like to get more info, before making a hasty decision. i like to be able to hear from both sides of something to get a broader understanding of an issue. i think sometimes we as a society can make rather hasty decisions without thinking something through completey. steve

#223713 - 12/25/03 11:03 PM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms
w. coyote Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 07/17/03
Posts: 372
Loc: Everett Wa.
Anything to ensure the total and complete colapse of all comercial fishing! But of course do it right!
25 years experience fishing the Puget Sound. 5 years of it catching fish.

#223714 - 12/26/03 01:56 PM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms
Slab Quest Offline
Three Time Spawner

Registered: 08/17/01
Posts: 1639
Loc: Mukilteo or Westport
If you like science fiction, read the new Clive Cussler book "White Death".

It's about fish farm genetisists creating evil monster fish. All of Clive's books have their technology rooted in current truths.

#223715 - 12/26/03 06:52 PM Re: Administration Plans Huge New Fish Farms

Registered: 01/17/02
Posts: 679
i like the idea of this fish farming, when they mentioned maybe farming king crab, thats when i perked up, i would like to be one to eat that stuff if it wasnt so spendy and also how many people in the crabbin industry this might put out of work, i dunno, but it will save some lives also, crabbing is a very dangerous profession and when there is a company big enough out there to come out with its initial price offering, i may jump on it..might be a good investment..

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