Deep Sea Fish Farm: Deep Trouble?

Rex Dalton from Nature News (subscription required) reports that legislation has been proposed to allow fish farming out in deep costal waters where federal laws, not state regulations, prevail in this 'exclusive economic zone'(EEZ). The EEZ extends from 5.5 to 370 kilometers off of the U.S. coast, an estimated 9 million square kilometers. I'm reminded of the Simpson's episode where Homer travels into 'international waters' and anything can happen - not too far from the truth. Peter Douglas, executive director of the California Coastal Commission, mentions that regulations have been recommended to fish farms in the EEZ in the past, but: "As far as I can tell, they blew those off," says Douglas.This proposal brings the conflict of fish farming to center stage, and it appears everyone has an angle. Scientists and Environmentalists are concerned about health for fisheries and environmental impact -specifically citing the impressive figure that the potential fish farms could generate as much Nitrogen waste as 10 million pigs. Government officials argue over control of local waters, and fish farmers are standing by wondering what to expect next from this aimless medusa of domestic policy issues.

Most agree that aquaculture will likely expand in the near future. The direction of that expansion needs tighter controls with measurable consequences for environmental and health hazards. Developing an economic policy which includes all of these factors is not yet in place. NOAA officials say they will address environmental standards in upcoming discussions. If you have an opinion - feel free to share it. The federal bill is being sponsored in the Senate by Democrat Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, and Republican Ted Stevens of Alaska.::Nature