Yesterday, the Don’t Cage Our Oceans Coalition, of which Recirculating Farms is a founding member, sent a letter to the Biden Administration, urging an end to policies that accelerate the development of harmful industrial fish farms, and instead support sustainable seafood protection that protects our marine environment.
Several executive orders issued by the Trump Administration, in particular EO 13921 (misleadingly titled, “Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth”), set in motion the rapid advancement of dangerous industrial marine aquaculture. This type of aquaculture uses giant floating net pens and cages that routinely discharge fish waste, excess feed, and chemicals into open waters. These finfish aquaculture facilities contaminate the marine environment (an important part of the public commons) with pollutants that contribute to harmful algal blooms, widespread coral die-off, and other threats. Industrial ocean aquaculture hurts local economies–from fishing families to local businesses that rely on tourism–which rely on the health of our oceans. Furthermore, fish escapes regularly occur due to extreme weather, human error, or structural failures, thus posing another significant risk to the ecosystem and wild fish through the spread of pathogens and increased competition for food, habitat, and mates.
EO 13921 pushed federal agencies to expand commercial aquaculture and largely disregard National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act requirements, as well as regulations concerning environmental quality and waste treatment. In response, the National Oceanic andAtmospheric Administration(NOAA), the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took actions during the previous administration to circumvent legal requirements and speed up permitting.
The Coalition’s letter urges the new administration to replace EO 13921 with one that focuses on truly supporting the domestic seafood market and sustainable wild-capture fisheries; publicly oppose and stop privately lobbying for the AQUAA Act, which seeks to expand offshore aquaculture; support policies such as the Keep Finfish Free Act (H.R. 274), which will prevent the authorization of commercial marine finfish farming operations in federal waters without explicit authorization from Congress; and stop prioritizing the growth and advancement of offshore marine finfish aquaculture in the U.S., including halting development of Velella Epsilon and Pacific Ocean Aquafarms, and instead support more sustainable, land-based seafood production methods.