Below please find published press releases and statements.

Department of Commerce approves new rules allowing offshore aquaculture in Gulf of Mexico/em>

Media contacts: Abigail Seiler, Center for Food Safety, (202-547-9359) Julia Ramsey, Recirculating Farms Coalition, (504) 289-7943; Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905


NEW ORLEANS, LA — Today, consumer, environmental, and sustainable fishing and farming organizations expressed their strong opposition to new federal regulations that permit development of industrial fish farms offshore in U.S. waters. The new rules allow up to 20 facilities and collectively 64 million pounds of fish to be produced each year in the Gulf of Mexico. The controversial permitting scheme, many years in the making, is heavily criticized by various groups and individuals.

“Just like factory farms on land, industrial offshore fish farms risk the health and welfare of communities, the environment and wildlife,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. “This plan to allow a private industry to abuse our public resources must stop now.”

Marianne Cufone, long-time fisheries expert, environmental attorney and executive director of the Recirculating Farms Coalition said, “Offshore industrial fish farming is outdated and unnecessary.” The Coalition uses on-land farming techniques that reuse water and wastes in closed-loop systems to raise fish. She said, “It took nearly 11 years to finalize this law, too much has changed for it to be relevant now.”

The Gulf of Mexico has changed significantly – effects on fisheries, habitat and communities from hurricanes, like Katrina in 2005, and the 2010 oil spill are all still emerging. Industrial, open-ocean aquaculture has also proved to be environmentally damaging. Major problems include the release of untreated waste; increased risks of diseases and parasites in wild fish by transmission from farmed fish; risks from drugs and chemicals, such as antibiotics and hormones, entering natural waters; and escapes of farmed fish altering wild populations.

Cages used to contain fish are flow-through, meaning anything from the pens – excess feed, fish wastes, and any chemicals – can go directly into Gulf waters. Massive fish escapes from aquaculture facilities occur around the world. Fish farms in Chile, Scotland and Canada had serious viral outbreaks. Notably, such facilities do not ease pressure on global fish populations, since raising larger carnivorous fish often uses smaller wild fish in feed. This can result in overfishing of these smaller fish, creating an imbalance in natural ecosystems.

The global experience with aquaculture shows these operations also threaten fishing communities, and related businesses too. Industrially produced fish can flood the market and compete with wild fish caught by local fishermen, immediately driving down prices. Less money for fishing families reduces available money for them to spend in other coastal community businesses.

Cynthia Sarthou, executive director of the Gulf Restoration Network said, “The Gulf of Mexico is still recovering from hurricanes and the 2010 oil spill; we don’t need more problems from fish farms.”

In addition to concerns about harm to the environment and local businesses, the process used to create the regulation was unusual and legally questionable. Rather than passing a law specifically to regulate aquaculture, the agencies used existing fishing laws to manage this new and fundamentally different activity, industrial aquaculture, as “fishing.” Worse, while only the Gulf of Mexico is affected by the new regulation right now, the law-making process could be replicated in other parts of the country to allow industrial fish farms elsewhere.

“This is a misguided decision,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety. “We need to better manage and protect our native fisheries, not adopt destructive industrial practices that put them at risk.”

The groups are analyzing their legal options to challege the new regulations.Click here to download the release PDF.

Other Releases and Statements:

November 20, 2015 – Recirculating Farms Coalition Denounces FDA Approval of Genetically Modified Salmon for Human Consumption – National

October 6, 2015 – Recirculating Farms Coalition Celebrates National Farm-to-School Month!Louisiana

September 2, 2015 – USDA Appoints Recirculating Farms Coalition Executive Director to Special Task ForceNational

August 29, 2015 – Volunteers Do Community Service With Recirculating Farms Coalition In Commemoration of 10th Anniversary of Hurricane KatrinaLouisiana

May 15, 2015 – Proposed Farm to School Laws Continue Move Forward in Louisiana – Louisiana

May 1, 2015 – Farm to School Law Moves Forward in Louisiana – Louisiana

April 22, 2015 – For Earth Day, Innovative Farming Group Announces Series of Free “Sustainable Farming” Classes National

April 1, 2015 – Gulf Fisheries Plan for Menhaden Fails to Address Critical Issues – Gulf of Mexico

February 2, 2015 – Recirculating Farms Coalition Awarded Grant to Train and Mentor New and Beginning Farmers; USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden Makes Announcement in New Orleans – National

February 5, 2014 – Statement of Executive Director, Marianne Cufone, on Congress Passage of the 2014 Farm Bill - National

November 6, 2013 – City of New Orleans Celebrates Groundbreaking of Innovative Urban Farm – Growing local NOLA - National

October 29, 2013 – Statement of Executive Director Marianne Cufone, Recirculating Farms Coalition on 9th Circuit Appellate Decision - National

August 13, 2013 – Backyard Gardeners Network, Recirculating Farms Coalition Host Community Day In Lower 9th Ward – Louisiana

February 8, 2013 - Open Ocean Aquaculture Would Harm the Gulf of Mexico: Statement by Marianne Cufone – National

October 22, 2012Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Announces Partnership to Build Growing Local NOLANational

September 24, 2012 – Unique Training Program Will Support New and Beginning Urban Farmers - National

August 23, 2012 – Recirculating Farms Coalition, New Orleans Food & Farm Network to Build Innovative Urban Food and Farm Center – National

August 8, 2012 – Recirculating Farms Help Florida Families Eat Healthy During Tough Economy – Florida

July 16, 2012Recirculating Farms Coalition Urges Congress to Improve Farm Bill – National

June 1, 2012 – Recirculating Farms Help New Orleans Eat Local – Louisiana

April 20, 2012 – Recirculating Farms Coalition Creates First Interactive Map Of U.S. Commercial Water Farms – Helps Consumers Find Fresh Local Food To Celebrate Earth Day – National

February 9, 2012 – AMPS Builds New Orleans’ 1st “Aeroponic” Recirculating Farm, Demonstrates Sustainable Urban Agriculture – National

October 3, 2011 – New Orleans “Worst food desert in U.S.” and “Best City in America for Foodies” – Louisiana

September 15, 2011 – U.S. Food and Jobs Crises Spawn New Nationwide Farming Coalition – National

September 15, 2011 – U.S. Food and Jobs Crises Spawn New Nationwide Farming Coalition – California

September 15, 2011 – U.S. Food and Jobs Crises Spawn New Nationwide Farming Coalition – Louisiana

September 15, 2011 – U.S. Food and Jobs Crises Spawn New Nationwide Farming Coalition – New York

September 15, 2011 – U.S. Food and Jobs Crises Spawn New Nationwide Farming Coalition – Texas

September 15, 2011 – U.S. Food and Jobs Crises Spawn New Nationwide Farming Coalition – Wisconsi