Letters to the Editor: May 15, 2009
Flaw in fish farming
Concerning your story about Hubbs-SeaWorld’s attempt to build the first offshore fish farm near Mission Bay, a justification for this project is to “decrease the devastation of overfished oceans.” However, there is a fundamental flaw in this argument.
The kind of farming that Hubbs proposes is heavily reliant on wild-caught fish for feed. It takes 2 to 5 pounds of wild fish to produce 1 pound of farmed fish - increasing, rather than reducing, fishing pressure on ocean food webs. Without resolving this issue, ocean fish farming won’t be a solution to what ails our oceans.
A range of environmental, socioeconomic and liability concerns must be addressed before our nation’s oceans are opened to large-scale fish farming. California implemented a precautionary approach to the expansion of ocean fish farming but the Hubbs project will be located beyond state waters and outside the jurisdiction of state agencies. Most importantly, should the Hubbs project be approved in advance of a national regulatory framework, it would open the door to future, case-by-case permitting decisions off California.
It is time for a national debate about the future of open ocean aquaculture. San Diegans should be part of that debate.
Ocean Conservancy’s aquaculture program