Group: Lawsuit ‘a waste taxpayers’ money’
The Ocean Stewards Institute on Tuesday applauded a U.S. District Court judge’s decision allowing the U.S. government to issue a permit to Kampachi Farms for its open-ocean fish farm in federal waters off the coast of Hawaii’s Big Island.
The Washington, D.C., environmental organization Food & Water Watch and Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance (KAHEA) had filed a lawsuit arguing that that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) lacks the authority under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to grant such a permit because the activity qualifies as “aquaculture,” not “fishing.”
Initially, NMFS issued Kampachi Farms a permit for its experimental “Velella Project” involving a single, small submersible pen stocked with 2,000 kampachi, a yellowtail relative native to Hawaiian waters. The pen, which isn’t tethered to the ocean floor, then drifted 3 to 75 miles offshore in waters up to 12,000 feet deep. The project was successfully concluded in February, and the company seeks additional permits to continue.
“The results from this Velella beta test were of great value to us, and to environmentalists and seafood lovers everywhere,” said Neil Anthony Sims, co-CEO of Kampachi Farms and president of the Ocean Stewards, an aquaculture advocacy group. “We should continue to move forward with developing responsible, sustainable sources of great-tasting, healthful fish. The world’s appetite for seafood grows, and we cannot increase our pressure on wild fish stocks. We need to find sustainable solutions. That’s what this research was exploring.”
Sims questioned the reasoning behind the suit.
“Why would you waste taxpayers’ money dragging NOAA into court to try to make them stop giving out research permits? Should we stop all research in the ocean? Should such research be unregulated? Or should we stop eating fish altogether? The extremist groups behind this lawsuit are not environmentalists — they are obstructionists,” he said.