Update: Kampachi Farms fires back
Editor’s note: The following article has been updated to clear up inaccuracies in the original article, published on Friday.
Kampachi Farms Co-CEO Neil Sims is firing back at Food & Water Watch (F&WW) for appealing a ruling that allowed Kampachi Farms to test a floating fish farm off Hawaii’s Big Island.
Early last month, a U.S. District Court judge in Honolulu agreed that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) had the authority to issue a “fishing” permit to Kampachi Farms, effectively rejecting Food & Water Watch’s argument that the agency lacks the authority under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to issue such a permit because the activity qualifies as “aquaculture,” not “fishing.”
Called the Velella Project, the initiative — which raised a limited number of sashimi-grade kampachi in unanchored, spherical net pens towed by tender vessels from site to site in powerful eddies to minimize the environmental impact — was deemed a success.
F&WW and the Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance (KAHEA) filed the lawsuit last August, and now the two organizations are asking the the U.S. Court of Appeals in Honolulu to overturn the U.S. District Court’s decision.
F&WW “strongly believes that aquaculture facilities should not be permitted in federal waters, especially when a regional fishery management council does not authorize them. We do not think this is what Congress contemplated when they enacted our nation’s fishing laws,” said F&WW in a press release last week.
But Sims is calling the suit “a total waste of taxpayer money.”
“It was determined that NOAA and NMFS has authority to issue the permit for aquaculture research in federal waters under existing legislation. Food & Water Watch is contesting a project that has already been successfully completed months ago,” he told West Hawaii Today.
“We proved that it is possible to grow healthy fish that thrive in their natural environment, with no measurable impact whatsoever on ocean ecosystems. This is the healthiest seafood on the planet, grown with the least impact. What is the problem?” said Sims. “It’s a shame that Food & Water Watch can't focus on real environmental problems.”
Kampachi Farms received the permit in July 2011 under the name Kona Blue Water Farms. Kona Blue Water Farms dissolved in late 2011 and Sims, along with another partner, founded Kampachi Farms, an aquaculture technology research firm.