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Sunday, June 12, 2005

Get along, li'l halibut

Wanted. Experienced fish wranglers. Apply within.

Get along, li'l halibut - High-seas "ranches" offer promise of abundant fish but raise serious health and environmental questions,The Oregonian:

… [T]he stampede to develop high-seas fish ranches out to the federal limit of 200 miles … is: a concession that the United States and the rest of the world have badly damaged and mismanaged the ocean's bounty. The damage … is not irreversible. One promise of … fish farms … is the possibility of feeding a hungry nation while relieving some of the pressure on wild fish stocks. Done carefully … fish farming will not necessarily cause widespread damage to the ocean environment or the Northwest commercial fishing industry. … seen in Canada, Norway, Chile and other nations that have raised vast numbers of fish in their waters. It seems likely that taking the farms farther offshore …, could reduce the spread of disease and other problems caused by intensive fish farming in sheltered, near-shore waters. New technology could create better, stronger fish pens and stop the frequent escapes and genetic pollution caused by inbreeding of farmed and wild fish. But it is worrisome that the administration is laying out a proposal to quintuple the amount of fish farming in U.S. waters during the next 20 years yet leaving until later the hard, crucial work of defining the appropriate health and environmental safeguards. The tough rules need to be in place long before the net pens go into the water. Large-scale fish farming has been a long time coming to the United States, but there is no stopping it now. The market for fresh fish … is large and getting larger. If this nation is unable or unwilling to safely and carefully raise seafood for the American market, other countries will fill the void. We're cautiously supportive … But as the government prepares to open the high seas to fish farms, it should heed the advice given to everyone setting out to sea: Be careful.

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