Tell Congress: Support the “Keep Fin Fish Free Act” to Ban Industrial Ocean Fish Farms!

Industrial ocean fish farms endanger both human and environmental health—yet the Trump administration is pushing for aggressive expansion of this dirty industry.


Raising non-native and/or genetically modified fish in ocean water fish farms can disrupt natural ecosystems when the facilities spread disease to wild fish and release toxic, untreated fish waste and pharmaceutical drugs into the marine environment.


Farmed fish also have more toxins, including pesticides and antibiotics, and contain fewer nutrients than wild caught fish.


TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress: Support the “Keep Fin Fish Free Act” to Ban Industrial Ocean Fish Farms!

fish farm nets in the ocean

Underwater factory farming poses a huge threat to our oceans and to the delicate life that exists within them. That’s why Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) has introduced a bill that would place a moratorium on granting commercial permits for industrial fish farms in federally controlled waters.


The “Keep Fin Fish Free Act” (H.R. 2467) would stop “the unchecked spread of aquaculture operations by reigning in the federal bureaucracy, and empowering Congress to determine where new aquaculture projects should be conducted,” Rep. Young told Alaska Native News.


The timing of this legislation is key, as the U.S. government steps up its push to commercialize our oceans. As Friends of the Earth (FOE) reports:


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offered millions of dollars to net pen farming startups, potentially without any prior environmental or endangered species analysis. Trump’s version of “National Oceans Month” (June) places a high priority on opening our waterways to floating factory farms. And despite the myriad environmental, socio-economic and public health threats from this disastrous industry, we have witnessed Congress cater to net pens, by hosting pro-industry briefings and hearings where insiders cheer the purported “benefits” and “sustainability” of net pens.


Underwater factory farms raise fish by the masses in net pens, pods and cages. Similar to factory farms on land, disease runs rampant in fish farms. As a result, a number of dangerous pesticides are used to fight disease-causing pests in factory farmed fish.


These pesticides can alter fish DNA and cause genetic mutations, which may spread when farmed fish escape and mate with wild fish. Escaped farmed fish also spread disease, and they compete with wild fish for food, habitat and reproduction.


Farmed fish spills threaten native sea life


Farmed fish spills are not uncommon. In August 2017, more than 260,000 non-native Atlantic salmon escaped into Puget Sound when the net-pen collapsed. The farm is owned and operated by Cooke Aquaculture Pacific, which downplayed the seriousness of the disaster by misleading the public about the number of escaped fish.


Cooke blamed strong tides for the faulty net-pens. But an investigation by the state of Washington found that Cooke was negligent because the company failed to properly clean the nets on the pens. This led to an excessive buildup of mussels and other sea life on the nets. As a result, the nets collapsed, allowing hundreds of thousands of farmed fish to escape into the environment.


The true extent of the environmental effects remains unknown. Only through time and monitoring will scientists be able to understand the full impact of escaped farm fish on native marine life.


If industrial ocean fish farming continues to expand, farm fish spills could become a lot more common.


Cooke currently operates dozens of fish farms, including more than 20 industrial ocean fish farms off of Maine’s coastline. Underwater factory farms are also permitted in North Carolina, Hawaii and parts of Florida. Efforts to obtain permits are in process in the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes and off the coasts of Long Island, New York, and San Diego, California.


Alaska and Oregon are the only U.S. states that have a ban on industrial ocean fish farms.


If passed, the “Keep Fin Fish Free Act” will help protect precious marine life, as well as reduce the risk posed to humans who eat factory farm fish.


Cynthia Sarthou, Executive Director of Healthy Gulf, told FOE:


“Factory fish farms threaten our food security and the health of our oceans. The environmental risks are almost too numerous to mention: disease transfer to wild fish, more antibiotics in our waterways, the depletion of important forage fish species, increased nutrient pollution in areas already prone to algae blooms, and more. Industrial fish farming is also an inefficient practice that produces expensive and poor-quality fish. It replaces fisherman-owned small businesses with capital-intensive corporations. If we instead focus on taking care of our oceans, we can continue to enjoy one of nature’s last renewable and abundant sources of food: wild fish.”


TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress: Support the “Keep Fin Fish Free Act” to Ban Industrial Ocean Fish Farms!

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