Rahall, Lawmakers Oppose Offshore Aquaculture Rule


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
September 11, 2008

U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) and 11 other lawmakers submitted a letter to President Bush this week urging him to nix a proposed rule authorizing the Minerals Management Service to issue leases, easements and rights of way for open-ocean fish farms in federal waters. They said the MMS, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, doesn't possess the authority or expertise to do so.

The rule also covers offshore wind, wave and other energy projects.

"It would be inappropriate for the MMS to permit aquaculture in that context when myriad and complex environmental issues remain," said Rahall in the letter.

Rahall is chair of the House Natural Resources Committee. U.S. Rep. Madeline Bordallo (D-Guam), chair of the committee's Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee, also signed the letter.

Forty-nine fishing, consumer and environmental groups also addressed a letter to President Bush this week asking him to remove the provision covering offshore aquaculture.

In July when the rule was proposed, the Ocean Stewards Institute, a trade organization formed last year to advocate for open-ocean fish farms, supported it, "provided there is adequate environmental monitoring and operational oversight by other relevant federal agencies."

The group is also advocating for the National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007, which would establish a regulatory framework for aquaculture in federal waters.

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