The new Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Rule creates a permitting process for offshore aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico but the Center for Food Safety and commercial fishing and conservation groups have filed a lawsuit against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration because of the new rule.
The rule has been in the works for 10 years, trying to finalize a structure that would allow 20 aquaculture facilities to harvest over 60 million pounds of fish per year in the Gulf. However, conservation groups are worried that such a facility would cause farmed and wild fish to mingle, spreading disease and polluting the environment from excess feed, waste and chemicals.
“Offshore industrial aquaculture will cause irreparable harm to the Gulf ecosystems and coastal communities,” George Kimbrell, the senior attorney filing the lawsuit, said.
Other organizations included in the suit are the Gulf Fishermen’s Association, the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, the Clearwater Marine Association, the Florida Wildlife Federation, and Food and Water Watch.
The United States imports more than 90 percent of its seafood, despite having the world's largest sea area. The Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Rule, which is supported by the American Soybean Association, would reduce the $14 billion trade deficit the United States faces because of imported seafood.