Fish Farms Get Push to Correct Seafood Imbalance

Stephen L Kanaval  |

For the first time in United States history, the Gulf of Mexico is now open for fish farming. The rest of the world is already well versed in fish farming and many countries are reaping the profits. According to papers written by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 90% of fish eaten in the U.S. come from a fish farm raised in foreign waters. The U.S. government has just realized that allowing fish farming in the Gulf would reduce our dependence on foreign imports and that means this industry could boom. Companies will receive permits for a 10-year period and many environmental restrictions will be placed on the farmers. Numerous captive fish escapes into wild waters have spread disease and hurt some ecological zones. The NOAA is on guard for this.

Even though the Gulf is now open, San Diego’s Rose Canyon Fisheries is a project that is being built four miles off the Pacific coastline. Rose Canyon Fisheries is a sustainable aquaculture company that is partnering with Seaworld on a massive fishery that would be the size of Central Park. Don Kent, the President of Sea World said, “The price of seafood is going up higher and higher for people like us who have to import it. So the big advantage we have over those other supplies is from the fact that we can grow it locally." Cuna Del Mar is also partnering on this massive project. This private equity firm brings experience to this venture. Cuna Del Mar is currently funding five other aquaculture endeavors.

Fish Farms are not without their risks. American fisheries do produce some fish, but Americans don’t eat it. Mackerel, cod, and squid are found in abundance on the American coastline, but are shipped abroad. Americans prefer more neutral-flavored fish seafood tilapia and pangasius. In short, fish farming is a complex swap. We export Alaskan salmon and import lots of farm-raised Chilean salmon. In addition, some American fisheries catch beautiful wild salmon ship it to China where it gets fileted, deboned, frozen, and sent right back to us.

The main issue, and one that could actually help Gulf and Pacific fisheries, is that other countries will pay for expensive, wild fish, while Americans want food bland and cheap. Fish Farms and the expansion of aquaculture could fill that void at home. Fish farms here could give Americans the bland and tasteless fish they want.

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