Alaska Republican Don Young introduces H.R. 2467 or the ‘Keep Fin Fish Free Act’ bill.
The legislation prohibits the Secretary of Interior and the Secretary of Commerce from authorising commercial finfish aquaculture operations in the United States Federal Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) unless specifically authorised by Congress, the senator posted in a press release on his website.
“My legislation takes needed steps to prevent the unchecked spread of aquaculture operations by reigning in the federal bureaucracy, and empowering Congress to determine where new aquaculture projects should be conducted,” he wrote.
The Trump Administration had sought an overhaul in federally controlled waters, and in June, a bill was introduced called the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act to facilitate the permitting process for aquaculture farms in federal waters.
The new H.R. 2467 bill, which was introduced on Thursday, will specifically prohibit federal agencies from permitting marine finfish aquaculture facilities in federal ocean waters, unless and until Congress passes a future law authorising such permits.
The bill was applauded by a range of environmentalists and anti-fish farming groups such as Recirculating Farms Coalition, Friends of the Earth and the Institute for Fisheries Resources.
“The United States is simply not prepared to manage offshore net pen fin fish aquaculture in the Exclusive Economic Zone,” said Noah Oppenheim, Executive Director of Institute for Fisheries Resources. “Without the relevant legal mandates and adequate environmental and economic scoping, Interior and Commerce are managing offshore fish farms in a legal gray area, enabling significant harm to wild capture fisheries and West Coast fishing communities.”
Young said that he introduced the bill to protect wild fish populations. However, he is seeking to amend the 1976 Magnuson-Stevens Act that prevented overfishing to help rebuilt overfished stocks – which some claim will increase the risk of overfishing.