New Report Reveals Factory Fish Farms are Damaging the Environment and Draining Tax Dollars, Yet are Still Planned for a 900 Percent Increase by 2013
Open ocean aquaculture (OOA) operations, also known as factory fish farms, are damaging Hawaii’s ocean ecosystems, impeding Native Hawaiian cultural practice, and sapping the local economy, according to the Pono Aquaculture Alliance (PAA).
The Pono Aquaculture Alliance (PAA) met with lawmakers to discuss viable local alternatives to factory fish farms, including methods such as land-based recirculating aquaculture systems and traditional coastal fish ponds. The coalition includes local groups `Apono Hawaii, KAHEA:The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, the Kanaka Council, Maui Tomorrow, Hawaii Boating and Fishing Association, Gyre Cleanup, and the Hawaii Audubon Society, among others, as well as national consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch.
“Loko ‘ia, traditional fishponds, have been part of sustainable food production in Hawaii for centuries,” said Miwa Tamanaha, Executive Director at KAHEA. “Now is the time to find the lessons they have to teach us for the future, and to protect the future of our oceans from the contamination, privitization and loss of public access that comes with commercial open ocean fish farms.”
According to the a report from Food & Water Watch, The Empty Promise of Ocean Aquaculture in Hawaii: Lessons for the Nation from an Industrial Testing Ground, this economically and environmentally unsustainable industry is set to increase by 900 percent by 2013.
The report explains that Hawaii’s state waters have been ground zero for industry testing and details the various problems associated with Hawaiian ocean fish farming.
“Sadly, Hawaii has become the perfect example of why this industry is not sustainable,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. “Factory fish farms in Hawaii have damaged the marine environment, are heavily reliant on government funding and tax breaks, and have interfered with Native Hawaiian cultural practices. We should not be expanding this practice in U.S. waters.”
According to the Pono Aquaculture Alliance, land-based recirculating aquaculture systems and traditional coastal fish ponds (loko ‘ia) are safer and more sustainable alternatives to ocean aquaculture. Land-based recirculating aquaculture systems are capable of producing large amounts of fish without polluting the oceans, since they are closed-loop, low energy operations that re-use water. Traditional coastal fish ponds, which once produced millions of pounds of fish annually, are an example of a local technology that could be revived and expanded. According to the report, these alternatives can meet the need for seafood production while boosting Hawaii’s economy in an environmentally sustainable way that respects the rights of indigenous Hawaiians.
“Advocates of open ocean aquaculture would have us believe that there are no viable alternatives to these destructive ocean farms, but there are, and these other methods should be explored,” Hauter said. “Hopefully Hawaii and the rest of the states will recognize industrial ocean farms are not the right means of supplementing U.S seafood production, before they permanently harm our oceans, the economy, consumers and more.”
For more information on the Pono Aquaculture Alliance as well as a list of current members, please visit www.ponoaqua.org.
Food & Water Watch