Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Managing aquaculture for sustainability

Boyce Thorne Miller, Science Coordinator for Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, begins a three-part series on the impact of aquaculture on the oceans today:

ACT I:  Aquaculture in the News
Part 2 will cover aquaculture history;  and part 3 conclude with aquaculture choices.
The ecology, economics, and purpose of modern fish aquaculture have been debated by scientists and policymakers for years. Yet even with numerous pros and cons and a variety of issues surrounding the practices, the singular message that seems to stick in consumers’ heads is that aquaculture is good, because it will feed the world and save the wild fish. It’s an easy message to understand and people would greatly prefer that it not be complicated by facts. But those facts are essential for responsible consumers to consider, and their importance has been raised once again by several recent items in the news.

Read about Whole Foods and other news on the post. NOAA's policy suggests troubling changes, Miller cites:

However, the NOAA aquaculture policy, issued last year, gives the US a statement of policy and guidance goals that could achieve the innovative and sharp change in aquaculture development that is needed. We need to make sure that potential is realized, for the aquaculture industry will resist it.  But that will require that the US not follow the examples set by other countries now leading aquaculture development. It will be harder for the EU, since they are already on a path committed to industrial monoculture fish farming. The NOAA Aquaculture Office webpage promotes an additional priority: “promoting a level playing field for U.S. aquaculture businesses engaged in international trade.”  That is very concerning. Leveling the playing field requires loosening important environmental restrictions and would make it difficult to achieve many of the admirable goals listed in the official policy document. The US should not be leveling the playing field with other aquaculture nations; it should playing an entirely different game and creating enviable models for truly sustainable aquaculture.

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