Gulf Aquaculture opponents speak out

01/30/08 Seán Kinane
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The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council met today in St. Petersburg to discuss several issues, including the possibility of allowing large-scale fish farming in the Gulf.

All 150 seats were filled and dozens more people were standing inside the room or waiting to get inside during the public comment portion of the meeting. Marianne Cufone, director of the Fish Program at Food and Water Watch, a consumer action organization, told WMNF why she opposes the Council’s plan for this type of offshore aquaculture in the Gulf.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is a federal body that makes rules about fishing in U.S. waters from about nine to 200 miles offshore. The group is considering rules for open ocean aquaculture (OOA) in which fish are farmed in open-water cages.

Large-scale Gulf aquaculture would affect the livelihoods of commercial fishers, according to Glenn Brooks, president of the Gulf Fisherman’s Association.

Ed Small owns and operates a boat for long-line fishing of grouper in the Gulf of Mexico and said that open-water fish farms would affect his livelihood.

Chris Dorsett directs the Gulf of Mexico Fish Conservation program with the Nature Conservancy and does not support the current offshore aquaculture plan because he says it is not environmentally sustainable.

While the Council was meeting, but before public comment, about a dozen people rallied against offshore fish farming. Among them was Joe Murphy, the Florida program coordinator with the Gulf Restoration Network.

Murphy compared the problems of offshore fish farming with those of factory farms on land.

The Council meets again tomorrow at the Radisson Hotel on Roosevelt Boulevard in St. Petersburg. On tomorrow night’s newscast, WMNF will report on the Marine Fish Conservation Network’s Annual Report on the Gulf Council’s performance, which will be released tomorrow.

You can send comments about proposed fish farming in the Gulf of Mexico by sending an email to

Photo credit: Seán Kinane / WMNF

Learn more:

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council

Food & Water Watch

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