Weekly Leader Letters

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Lawsuit Filed over New Gulf Rule, as Anticipated

The Center for Food Safety, commercial fishing and conservation groups have filed a lawsuit against National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) against the new Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Rule, which creates a permitting process for offshore aquaculture in the Gulf. American Soybean Association (ASA) has strongly supported the finalization of the rule.

The final regulation comes 10 years in the making and would allow up to 20 aquaculture facilitates to yield over 60 million pounds of fish a year, within the Gulf of Mexico. In the lawsuit, the groups list concerns including the farmed fish escaping the aquaculture facilities and changing the wild fish populations, spreading disease and polluting the environment with excess feed, waste and chemicals.

“Offshore industrial aquaculture will cause irreparable harm to the Gulf ecosystems and coastal communities,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for the group, which is pursuing the suit with 11 other organizations, including the Gulf Fishermen’s Association, Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, Clearwater Marine Association, Florida Wildlife Federation and Food and Water Watch.

According to the United Nations, even though the U.S. has the largest sea area, more than 90 percent of the United States seafood is imported; leaving a $14 billion deficit. The world is now eating more farmed fish than wild catches, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.

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