Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Written by Adrianne Madden
Friday, 30 January 2009
In the midst of a nationwide peanut butter scare (which follows on the heels of a milk scare, a tomato and green pepper scare, and of course the ongoing fears of Mad Cow disease), I must admit I am skeptical of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council's conviction that offshore fish farms are a step in the right direction.
If anything, I think we have seen repeatedly that the corporate approach to food, though cost effective and resource efficient, often results in a substandard product when compared with the real, wild thing (or, at the very least, with the products of small-scale operations).
I certainly don't follow the logic of putting people out of business to provide them with different jobs, which is what farming advocates promise to do for commercial fishermen. It seems like a lot of trouble to come up with careers, training and infrastructure for people who already have work they love and don't want to give up.
Sure, fish farming looks good on paper. What that means is we're not going to discover (or prevent!) the negative effects that farmed grouper may have on the wild population (and all sea critters) until after the pens are in place and operating, likely for some time.
Salmon fishermen can do essentially nothing about sea lice, because the door to salmon farms has been opened and can't be shut. They must bear the introduction of a parasite to their wild fishery because the farmed and the wild both live in an uncontainable open ocean.
You can harness the fish, but you can't wrangle Mother Nature.
The Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance recently announced that the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation has awarded the organization a Hollings Grant to reduce whale entanglements in Alaska salmon fisheries by increasing the use of acoustic whale pingers to minimize entanglements in fishing gear.
Last week, Alaska senators Lisa Murkowski (R), Dan Sullivan (R) and Rep. Don Young (R) asked Secretary of State John Kerry to negotiate with Canadian leaders to make sure appropriate environmental safeguards are in place for mine development in Southeast Alaska.
The congressional delegation explained the importance of this issue to Alaskans and the need for assurances that the water quality in transboundary waters between Alaska and Canada will be maintained.Read more...