Press Releases

Below please find published press releases and statements:

Court Stops Industrial Fish Farms in Gulf of Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 26, 2018

CONTACT: George Kimbrell: (571) 527-8618, gkimbrell@centerforfoodsafety.org or Marianne Cufone: 813-785-8386, mcufone@recirculatingfarms.org

New Orleans, LA – Yesterday, an unusual coalition of fishing and public interest groups, represented by the Center for Food Safety, won a lawsuit challenging the Department of Commerce’s rules that would have permitted, for the first time, industrial finfish farms offshore in U.S. waters.

“This is a landmark victory for protecting our oceans, for fishing communities and conservationists,” said George Kimbrell, CFS Legal Director and lead counsel in the case. “Allowing industrial net-pen aquaculture and its known environmental harms in the Gulf of Mexico was a grave threat. Very simply, as the Court properly held, aquaculture is not ‘fishing.’ Such harm cannot be allowed under existing fisheries law never intended for that purpose.”

The rules challenged in the lawsuit focused on the Gulf of Mexico, but also could have paved the way for fish farm permits all around the U.S. The Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana ruled that existing fisheries management laws were never intended to regulate aquaculture (the farming of fish in pens or cages), concluding that the Department of Commerce “acted outside of its statutory authority…”

Marianne Cufone, local counsel and Executive Director of the Recirculating Farms Coalition (RFC) said, “This ruling makes clear that existing fisheries law cannot be manipulated to develop and expand marine finfish farming in the Gulf or other U.S. waters. Now we can focus on stopping Congress from passing new laws to promote this outdated and unnecessary industry.”

Since the 1980’s, Congress has periodically attempted to pass laws promoting marine finfish farms, but all failed due to massive public opposition. Federal agencies then tried to permit fish farms under existing fisheries management laws. The lawsuit stopped that, so Congress is back on it. Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi introduced the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act and a similar bill is expected in the House of Representatives soon. RFC and others plan to again turn their attention to Capitol Hill.

Globally, industrial aquaculture has been associated with many serious environmental and health concerns: farmed fish escapes into the wild; competition between wild and farmed fish for habitat, food and mates, or their intermixing causing changes in genetics and behaviors; spread of diseases or parasites from farmed fish to wild fish and other marine life; and pollution from excess feed, wastes and chemicals flowing through the open pens into natural waters.

“We applaud today’s ruling! We must protect our ocean resources from the many threats posed by offshore aquaculture,” said Cynthia Sarthou, Executive Director of the Gulf Restoration Network, another plaintiff in the case.

Industrial aquaculture can also come with significant socioeconomic costs - creating market competition that drives down the price of wild fish and devaluing of quota shares, resulting in the loss of fishing and fishing-related employment and income. Less money for fishing men and women means less money spent in coastal communities too, hurting other businesses.

“All of us who depend on the Gulf are profoundly grateful that the Court has struck down these dangerous regulations that would have polluted our waters and damaged our way of life,”said Gulf Fishermen’s Association attorney William Ward. “Today is a great day.”

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of plaintiff organization Food & Water Watch, said, "Today’s decision reaffirms that Congress never intended for the federal government to allow massive factory fish farms in federal waters. The Court recognized that this irresponsible plan was an overreach by the federal government that would give away our public resources to another polluting industry.”

The plaintiff groups on the lawsuit make up a broad array of interests, including commercial, economic, recreational, farming and conservation purposes: Gulf Fishermen’s Association; Gulf Restoration Network; Charter Fishermen’s Association; Destin Charter Boat Association; Alabama Charter Fishing Association; Fish for America, USA, Inc.; Florida Wildlife Federation; Recirculating Farms Coalition; and Food & Water Watch.

Click here to access press release document.

Other Releases and Statements

February 16, 2016 — Fishing and Public Interest Groups Sue Feds On New Rules Allowing Industrial Offshore Aquaculture — National

January 13, 2016 — National and Local Groups Oppose Industrial Fish Farming Regulations — National

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 Force – National

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

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, 2012 – Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Announces Partnership to Build Growing Local NOLA – National

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, 2012 – Recirculating 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 – Wisconsin