Breaking news: Fish farming in U.S. waters? NOAA needs your comments.

I understand from my friends at Food and Water Watch that NOAA/NMFS is poised to issue Kona Blue Water Farms (an open ocean aquaculture company)  a fishing permit for the purpose of establishing the first ocean fish farm in federal waters.  The 10-day comment period on the associated environmental assessment ends Sunday night.

The details as relayed to me : NOAA’s Pacific Island Regional Office received an application from Kona Blue  in late 2010 for a Special Coral Reef Fishing Permit to raise 20,000lbs of Kona Kampachi in federal waters off of Hawaii.  The fish would be raised in unmoored cages attached to an 80ft boat and move through a 7,200 sq mile area.  NOAA is calling the cages a new ‘gear-type.’

Because they are considered a new gear type for which no environmental review has been done, Kona Blue was asked to prepare an environmental assessment.  The draft assessment was released on March 17 with a 10-day comment period and is available at
This is a particularly dangerous move because it would set the precedent to allow open ocean fish farming in all of our federal waters nationwide under the auspice of fishing  and without a regulatory system in place protect against any negative environmental and social impacts that have been associated with ocean fish farms worldwide.  These include pollution, interference with other ocean users, damage to marine ecosystems, disease transfer between farmed and wild fish, use of antibiotics, depleting prey-fish populations in order to feed farmed fish, and others.

(What strikes me as particularly troubling is that a fishing permit is being issued — fish farming is very different from fishing — with very different issues. )

Comments on the Draft Environmental Assessment for Kona Blue Water Farms’ application to use a new ‘gear-type’ — i.e. fish cages —  to ‘catch’ seriola rivoliana will be accepted until 11:59 hst (midnight – Hawaii Standard Time), March 27, 2011.

Submit to: with the subject line: Comment on Special Permit

The Draft Environmental Assessment is available” target=”_blank”>here


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