[X] CLOSEMAIN MENU

  • Archives

  • Categories

    • air pollution (2)
    • Announcements (586)
    • Antibiotic Resistance (27)
    • Antimicrobial (8)
    • Aquaculture (27)
    • Aquatic Organisms (24)
    • Bats (3)
    • Beneficials (40)
    • Biofuels (6)
    • Biological Control (20)
    • Biomonitoring (34)
    • Birds (14)
    • btomsfiolone (1)
    • Bug Bombs (1)
    • Canada (10)
    • Cannabis (27)
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (8)
    • Children (58)
    • Children/Schools (228)
    • cicadas (1)
    • Climate (1)
    • Climate Change (53)
    • Clover (1)
    • compost (1)
    • contamination (114)
    • Disinfectants & Sanitizers (10)
    • Drift (2)
    • Drinking Water (2)
    • Emergency Exemption (2)
    • Environmental Justice (135)
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (298)
    • Events (82)
    • Farm Bill (10)
    • Farmworkers (153)
    • fish (6)
    • Forestry (5)
    • Fracking (4)
    • Fungicides (12)
    • Goats (2)
    • Golf (13)
    • Greenhouse (1)
    • Groundwater (2)
    • Health care (32)
    • Herbicides (9)
    • Holidays (29)
    • Household Use (5)
    • Indigenous People (1)
    • Infectious Disease (2)
    • Integrated and Organic Pest Management (62)
    • Invasive Species (30)
    • Label Claims (47)
    • Lawns/Landscapes (216)
    • Litigation (317)
    • Livestock (5)
    • Metabolites (2)
    • Microbiata (10)
    • Microbiome (9)
    • Nanosilver (2)
    • Nanotechnology (54)
    • National Politics (386)
    • Occupational Health (2)
    • Pesticide Drift (144)
    • Pesticide Efficacy (2)
    • Pesticide Mixtures (2)
    • Pesticide Regulation (707)
    • Pesticide Residues (160)
    • Pets (25)
    • Plant Incorporated Protectants (1)
    • Poisoning (4)
    • Preemption (25)
    • President-elect Transition (2)
    • Repellent (1)
    • Resistance (97)
    • Rights-of-Way (1)
    • Rodenticide (26)
    • Seeds (3)
    • synergistic effects (7)
    • Synthetic Pyrethroids (8)
    • Take Action (508)
    • Textile/Apparel/Fashion Industry (1)
    • Toxic Waste (6)
    • Wildlife/Endangered Sp. (390)
    • Women’s Health (7)
    • Wood Preservatives (27)
    • World Health Organization (4)
  • Most Viewed Posts

Daily News Blog

01
Jun

Presidential Executive Order Loosens Environmental Restrictions on Fish Farms, Adds to Degradation of Waterways

(Beyond Pesticides, June 1, 2020) The President issued another executive order, on May 7, that continues his administration’s dissembling on matters that affect the well-being of everyday Americans. This EO (executive order) purports to “promote American seafood competitiveness and economic growth.” The reality, as the Center for American Progress reports, is that the “bulk of the Trump administration’s new executive order sets up a structure for permitting of offshore aquaculture in federal waters with short timelines and few environmental safeguards.” This EO will further erode regulations that have governed the operation of so-called “fish farms,” and open enormous marine areas to exploitation by this industry. Beyond Pesticides has argued for more-protective regulation of the aquaculture industry, considering the variety of pesticides and chemical inputs it uses, and the impacts on local ecosystems.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines aquaculture as any “farming of aquatic organisms, including baitfish, crustaceans, food fish, mollusks, ornamental fish, sport or game fish, and other aquaculture products. Farming involves some form of intervention in the rearing process, such as seeding, stocking, feeding, protection from predators, etc. Fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other aquatic products caught or harvested by the public from non-controlled waters or beds are considered wild caught and are not included as aquaculture.”

In coastal and offshore waters, the industry includes both fed and unfed sectors: fish such as salmon are fed by the “farmers,” whereas bivalve shellfish, such as mussels, clams, and oysters, feed on plankton that live in seawater and do not require additional dietary inputs. Most U.S. aquaculture is currently for bivalves, which are filter feeders; proponents claim that they actually clean the water and can help restore polluted waterways. However, shellfish farming brings with it other problems: competition in localized areas for nutrients, seagrass loss, and excessive sediment buildup that can disturb benthic organisms (those that inhabit that bottom of a waterbody, including sediment layers) and local ecosystems.

U.S. aquaculture (aka “fish farming”) is a $1.5 billion industry, spread across just under 3,000 “farms.” It is regulated at the federal level primarily by the USDA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For example, FDA deals with food safety and pharmaceutical issues, and EPA regulates wastewater permitting. Other federal agencies play more peripheral roles; they include: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) within the Department of Commerce; the Center for Veterinary Medicine within the FDA; the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the USDA; and FWS (Fish and Wildlife Service) under the Department of the Interior (DOI). 

At the state and local levels, regulations may vary considerably with local statutes, and often with the location of such operations — whether coastal, inland, wetland, or offshore. There is no particular consistency in regulation because each state and locality may have its own statutes and protocols related to permitting — which process may consider zoning, water use, waste discharge, wildlife management, processing, and other aspects of aquaculture operations.

The Trump administration has a long record of dismantling environmental protections, failing to enforce those that do exist, undermining science, and weighting agrochemical and other industry interests over those of the public and the environment. It is characterizing this recent EO as an economic “boost,” but in reality, is (once again) using the pandemic as a justification for escalating its agenda: slashing regulations that protect health and the environment, and exploiting and commodifying public resources for private gain.

The primary intent of the EO, as noted above, is to establish “a structure for permitting of offshore aquaculture in federal waters with short timelines and few environmental safeguards.” The Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN) has criticized this Executive Order in part because of the unusual brevity of the timeline it sets out: 90 days for drafting of a permit, and two years for an environmental review. The organization also notes the concern among environmental groups that due diligence will not be a priority. 

In its justification, the order references “removing outdated and unnecessarily burdensome regulations,” reducing “burdens on domestic fishing,” and increasing production. Weakening or dismantling federal regulations further weakens federal regulations and increases problems associated with collapsing stocks, polluted habitats, and loss of hundreds of thousands of marine creatures through “bycatch” (a product of destructive fishing practices).

The argument about an economic boost through expansion of offshore aquaculture — so as to increase seafood production — escalates an environmental contamination of waterways. American Progress rightly notes, “Production is not the problem; demand is. Boats laden with fish and shellfish are being turned away by seafood buyers because with global supply chains in disarray and so many restaurants closed, there is no way to process, store, or sell more product. More than two-thirds of the money that Americans spend on seafood is spent at restaurants, and sales in that sector have plunged by more than 90 percent. . . . With nowhere to sell the fish they are catching now, it seems likely that . . . the fisheries management section of . . . [the] executive order has much more to do with [the administration’s] long-standing push to allow industrial fishing in the few areas now protected from it and far less to do with aiding the communities devastated by COVID-19.”

In addition, expansion of large, industrial fish farms could flood the market with cheaper farmed fish, hurting the sustainably caught seafood sector. Given the grim realities of seafood sales during the pandemic, this economic case is exposed for what it is: an advancing of the administration’s desire to establish aquaculture farms in federal waters. Lead Counsel for the Center for Food Safety, George Kimbrell, commented in a Seattle Times article (on a federal court case in which NOAA was the defendant), “NOAA [has] wanted to do this sort of industrial [aquaculture] permitting not just in the Gulf of Mexico but in the Pacific and along the Atlantic coast.” NOAA has also pursued rulemaking for the industry in waters off of Hawaii and other Pacific islands.

Modern Farmer reports FERN’s assertion that this EO opens the door for large offshore fish farms, saying that it is “designed, at its core, to expand the scope and facilities for aquaculture. What that likely means is a reduction in regulations, and the creation of large offshore fish farms.” Further, the order puts the regulation of these farms — typically giant cages in which fish are raised — under the administration of NOAA, and, in essence, invites input from industry on what regulations should be eliminated.

The EO permits finfish facilities “in marine and coastal waters out to the limit of the territorial sea and in ocean waters beyond the territorial sea within the exclusive economic zone of the United States.” That language describes a vast ocean area that will become vulnerable to aquaculture activity: the “territorial sea” extends from the continental (and Hawaiian) shoreline to 12 miles offshore; the “exclusive economic zone” constitutes 3.4 million square nautical miles of ocean — an area larger than the combined land area of all 50 states. Prior to this EO, such facilities were not permitted in federal waters between three and 200 miles offshore.

The environmental impacts of coastal and offshore aquaculture have been amply chronicled by Beyond Pesticides and others. They include the pollution from fish farm effluent, antibiotic and pesticide inputs and residues, impacts on local marine ecosystems, coastal habitat loss, and genetic and health risks to wild marine populations. One example of the pesticide issues related to aquaculture is the use of insecticides to control sea lice in farmed salmon, covered by Beyond Pesticides here and here. Another is the pesticide residue from farmed fish food pellets that can be consumed by nearby wild marine organisms. Oddly, the food fed to farmed salmon often contains wild-caught fish, which might presumably be better used directly for human food.

More details on some of those environmental impacts and risks include:

  • the high-density environment in which farmed fish are kept makes outbreaks of disease more likely
  • pathogens among a population of farmed stock can move out of the fish pens to infect wild populations
  • farmed (and/or genetically modified/bred) stock can escape pens and interbreed with wild populations
  • wild marine creatures can get entangled in the nets or other gear used for the farm pens, causing injury and sometimes, death
  • the waste from fed aquaculture systems can represent significant sources of organic matter introduced into coastal ecosystems, potentially altering the local food chain, depleting the water of oxygen, and generating toxic algal blooms

There are myriad protective and responsible ways in which the federal government could help fisher people and coastal communities in this tough economic moment. The Center for American Progress recommends, for instance, these measures:

  • increased direct aid to: commercial seafood businesses, including small aquaculture operations; the recreational industry, such as charter boats and guides; and small owner-operator businesses; additionally, increased direct federal purchase of seafood
  • investment in ocean and coastal habitat restoration
  • improved, science-based monitoring and management of fisheries and aquaculture enterprises

The federal government should implement muscular safeguards on the industry that would avoid harmful impacts on wild marine fish stocks and other organisms, reduce water pollution, eliminate the use of pesticides in aquaculture, and prevent habitat destruction. A sustainable aquaculture industry, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, would require robust and timely production data, prohibit discharge of wastes over certain environmentally determined levels, and specify appropriate siting locations for such operations. Instead, this administration has opted, as the Center for American Progress says, to “focus on weakening successful fisheries management measures and selling off federal waters to big corporations with few safeguards.”

Beyond Pesticides will continue to monitor and report on developments in aquaculture, as well as related governmental and industry actions, through the Daily News Blog, Action of the Week, and its journal, Pesticides and You.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2020/05/22/485338/new-trump-executive-order-sells-off-ocean-fails-coastal-communities/

 

Share

Leave a Reply

  • Archives

  • Categories

    • air pollution (2)
    • Announcements (586)
    • Antibiotic Resistance (27)
    • Antimicrobial (8)
    • Aquaculture (27)
    • Aquatic Organisms (24)
    • Bats (3)
    • Beneficials (40)
    • Biofuels (6)
    • Biological Control (20)
    • Biomonitoring (34)
    • Birds (14)
    • btomsfiolone (1)
    • Bug Bombs (1)
    • Canada (10)
    • Cannabis (27)
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (8)
    • Children (58)
    • Children/Schools (228)
    • cicadas (1)
    • Climate (1)
    • Climate Change (53)
    • Clover (1)
    • compost (1)
    • contamination (114)
    • Disinfectants & Sanitizers (10)
    • Drift (2)
    • Drinking Water (2)
    • Emergency Exemption (2)
    • Environmental Justice (135)
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (298)
    • Events (82)
    • Farm Bill (10)
    • Farmworkers (153)
    • fish (6)
    • Forestry (5)
    • Fracking (4)
    • Fungicides (12)
    • Goats (2)
    • Golf (13)
    • Greenhouse (1)
    • Groundwater (2)
    • Health care (32)
    • Herbicides (9)
    • Holidays (29)
    • Household Use (5)
    • Indigenous People (1)
    • Infectious Disease (2)
    • Integrated and Organic Pest Management (62)
    • Invasive Species (30)
    • Label Claims (47)
    • Lawns/Landscapes (216)
    • Litigation (317)
    • Livestock (5)
    • Metabolites (2)
    • Microbiata (10)
    • Microbiome (9)
    • Nanosilver (2)
    • Nanotechnology (54)
    • National Politics (386)
    • Occupational Health (2)
    • Pesticide Drift (144)
    • Pesticide Efficacy (2)
    • Pesticide Mixtures (2)
    • Pesticide Regulation (707)
    • Pesticide Residues (160)
    • Pets (25)
    • Plant Incorporated Protectants (1)
    • Poisoning (4)
    • Preemption (25)
    • President-elect Transition (2)
    • Repellent (1)
    • Resistance (97)
    • Rights-of-Way (1)
    • Rodenticide (26)
    • Seeds (3)
    • synergistic effects (7)
    • Synthetic Pyrethroids (8)
    • Take Action (508)
    • Textile/Apparel/Fashion Industry (1)
    • Toxic Waste (6)
    • Wildlife/Endangered Sp. (390)
    • Women’s Health (7)
    • Wood Preservatives (27)
    • World Health Organization (4)
  • Most Viewed Posts