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Posts Tagged ‘fisheries’

GE Salmon

They came for our taro. Is it any surprise that fish is next on the list? Today, federal officials in the U.S. are considering approval of the first genetically modified fish. GMO-salmon. Ick.

Salmon are sacred. It’s time to show our solidarity for indigenous peoples, first nations, and fishing and nearshore communities the world over. We’re a fish and poi culture, and we’ve got to be concerned about genetic modification of native species. Genetic modification is a part of a broken industrial food system that just doesn’t work. It isn’t serving communities, farmers, fishers, or consumers. We want sovereignty… over what’s on our plates. And we’re saying no to untested, unlabeled GMO foods.

From our friends at Food and Water Watch:

Franken-Fish have won the race to be the first genetically engineered animal approved for human consumption. The aquaculture industry has genetically engineered a fish that grows at twice the normal rate, so they can get it to market sooner and make more money.

The scary thing is, the FDA doesn’t do its own testing of genetically engineered animals, it relies on information provided by the company that wants approval. And because GE salmon are being considered as a new animal drug, the process isn’t focused on what happens to people who eat genetically engineered animals. So on top of the health concerns posed by raising salmon in crowded factory fish farms that rely on antibiotics and other chemicals, the FDA could be adding the unknown risks of GE salmon to the mix.

The FDA is the same agency that’s in charge of overseeing the egg industry, and we see how well they’ve done that job. The FDA does not have the capacity to ensure the safety of food that is not genetically engineered, they certainly should not be in charge of allowing the first GE animal into our food supply.

We’ve got just 12 days until the FDA takes formal steps to approve GE salmon, so it’s up to us to demand that President Obama direct the FDA to reject this request.

Take action to stop this mutant fish from reaching your plate:
http://action.foodandwaterwatch.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=4693

(Illustration at top is by the talented Glenn Jones at threadless.com. His GE Salmon shirt is now sold out!)

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From Alana:

Too often loko i’a are talked about as things of the past, and somewhat obsolete. They are spoken of like memorials of a time past, a time when Hawaiians could essentially farm huge amounts of fish without even needing to feed them. But those days are over, right? No, they don’t have to be. 

On Saturday at He’eia fishpond in Kaneohe, a bunch of people got together to help fish some of the predators, like baracuda, out of the fishpond. He’eia is an estimated 800 years old. It is owned by Bishop Estate, and is cared for by  Paepae o He’eia, a private non-profit organization. It has taken them years to clear destructive mangrove trees off of about half the fishpond wall, and they are still working on fixing a hole in the wall, but they still manage to produce and sell moi. He’eia produces anywhere between 300 and 700 pounds of moi each year and that number is expected to increase when the wall is fixed and the fishpond is completely restored. About 100 years ago there were many more fishponds all around the island, but most of them have either been filled in completely with mangroves, or are in ruin. 

He’eia, though, is a beautiful example of how community effort can lead to something meaningful and productive. Although many fishponds are privately owned now, they could still serve as productive entities of society. He’eia and Moli’i on O’ahu both manage to. Hawaiian fishponds utilized a system that was not found anywhere else on the planet. It was probably the most efficient and sustainable way of raising herbivore fish ever. Fishponds are not the remnants of an ancient culture. Hawaiians are still here, and Hawaii can still benefit from fishponds.

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From Alana:

As a result of many letters being sent to state representatives, Rep. Mazie Hirono has decided to co-sponsor the “Offshore Aquaculture is not Fishing Act of 2009”. The bill asserts that under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Secretary of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and regional fishery management councils do not have the authority to permit or regulate the commercial ocean fish farming industry, because it is not fishing. 

The federal law that gives the Gulf Council and NOAA authority to regulate fish and fishing region-by-region was not intended to govern risky industrial enterprises like ocean fish farms.

This is a step in the right direction for the regulation of offshore aquaculture, which might soon happen in the Gulf of Mexico, and expand in places like Hawaii.

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From Alana:

From “Hawai’i has a lot to gain from open ocean aquaculture” in today’s Honolulu Advertiser:

Just as we need to be off imported oil, we need to be off imported seafood. This opportunity can be an economic engine for Hawai’i, and hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake.Let’s not stand in our own way. There’s  a lot to gain for everyone.

Absolutely.

The amount of seafood that we import is really astounding. It is upsetting, though, that in the wake of a very large aquaculture operation, which would export up to 90% of its ahi products, statements like the above, are used to defend it.

The article, by Jay Fidell of ThinkTech Hawaii, goes on to say that:

There are anti-aquaculture groups who don’t want “greedy” corportations to make a profit and export aquaculture products to outside markets. Those groups don’t acknowledge andvancements in the technology, and regularly diseminate disinformation about the industry. They’ve been pulling out all the stops, apparently bent on wiping out open ocean aquaculture in Hawai’i. Theyre’re completely wrong. Without open ocean aquaculture, Hawai’i would have to depend on foreign unregulated producers and overfished wild stocks. Those options are not nearly as secure or sustainable as the development of homegrown open ocean aquaculture.

I do not think of myself as entirely “anti-aquaculture”, I just think it should be done right. My cause is not to “diseminate disinformation”, it is to let people know that there are serious implications that multiple aquaculture ventures could have on Hawaii’s marine ecosystems. It is also to open peoples eyes to aquaculture in other parts of the world, and to how it has affected those places. This article makes it seem like there is some hidden agenda beneath fighting these giant open ocean aquaculture projects. But really, I have nothing to gain from this. I have neither read nor heard anything pro-open ocean aquaculture, aside from the people who would benefit direcly from it.

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From Alana:

For the past few weeks there have been numerous articles, editorials, and letters to editors in several local newspapers regarding open ocean aquaculture. A recent editorial in the Honolulu Advertiser states that 

the large size and experimental nature of the [Hawaii Oceanic Tech] project demands that state regulators, and the public, keep a critical eye on the project as it moves forward.

The article goes on to say that the objective of this project is an organic, ecologically sustainable fish. 

PROBLEM #1: Organic. The problem with this is that there are no organic standards for fish farming. It would also be especially hard to develop one for open ocean aquaculture, because the cages are not closed systems. Anything that is in the water will wind up in the bodies of the fish.

Hawaii Oceanic Tech also hopes to use “organic feed” for their fish. The main ingredient in HOTIs feed will be “sardines from sustainable fish stocks”. But, this goes back to what I said above: there are no organic standards for fish, so any claims of their feed being so are false.

PROBLEM #2: Ecologically Sustainable. This is a tricky one, just because it is so undefined. What is ecologically sustainable? Everything humanity does will impact the environment in some way. Perhaps ecologically sustainable means there is a balance of pros and cons for the environment. But what are the pros in this situation? Proponents of aquaculture say that farming fish gives wild populations a chance to repopulate, but this is easily proven wrong by the environmental havoc  that fish farming has caused in British Columbia and other places where fish farms are popular. Many Canadians are embarrassed that their government has let the caged farming industry expand because of its serious impacts. 

More information about ocean fish farming’s impact on wild stocks can be found here: Science Daily: Ocean Fish Farming Harms Wild Fish, Study Says (Neil Frazer-UH)

Keep your eyes open for more aquaculture in the news in the coming weeks.

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From Alana:

Instead of having a limit of 2,120 sets of fishing gear deployments annually, Wespac thinks it’s a better idea to just catch swordfish until a sea turtle gets tangled in the net… WHAT?

Green sea turtles, loggerhead turtles, and leatherback turles are all endangered species that live in Hawaii. This new rule puts all three of these species at an even higher risk, along with dolphins, sharks, seabird, and whales.

There is a lot to lose when less stringent rules are introduced in commercial fishing:

Hawaiian longliners have historically hooked two to 10 sharks for every swordfish. At least 60,000 sharks–and more often around 100,000–are caught each year by swordfish crews, who often cut off the fins from live animals and then allow them to slide off the deck and drown…[furthermore] If this proposal goes forward, Fisheries is estimating a humpback will be killed every year.

Mahalo to everyone who took action on this issue in our last e-newsletter.

Click here to read the entire article from the Honolulu Weekly : Swordfight!

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From Alana:

Entitled Aquaculture in Hawaii: Economic Advantage or Source of Sustainability, the Hawaii Venture Capitalist Association’s recent meeting addressed the benefits of many types of aquaculture in Hawaii. I think the presentation did a good job of explaining how aquaculture could be in Hawaii, in its most ideal form.

One of the first things mentioned was that aquaculture could help restore wild fish populations that are headed towards extinction. They failed to address, however, how that would happen. It is accepted in the scientific community that fish raised in fish farms are much less fit to live in the wild. Another weak point in the presentation was explaining how the current and future open ocean aquaculture ventures would increase self-sufficiency in Hawaii by reducing imports. Up to 90% of the future ventures’ fish would be exported, while the 10% allotted for Hawaii would go to restaurants like Alan Wong’s and Mariposa, restaurants that most people here can’t afford to go to on a regular basis.

There were also two slides that were completely skipped, clearly regarding genetics. I understand that this may have been due to time constraints, but the public deserves to know not only about possible economic gains from aquaculture, but also the genetic and environmental consequences of it.

A good way to sum up the outlook of the meeting is with the quote

“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly”

this quote was used during the presentation, but who is to say what is worth doing and what isn’t? Is anything worth doing badly anymore? A  commenter on one of m previous posts claimed that “fish poop” produced from aquaculture can curb the effects of climate change by absorbing the CO2 from the atmosphere, and adding it to the ocean. However, as my previous “ocean acidification” post details, an increase nutrient-rich fish effluent leads to the acidification of the ocean, thereby further risking the health of many ecosystems.

Once again, I urge everyone to learn more about what is going on in terms of aquaculture in Hawaii.

Here are some links to more info on open ocean aquaculture. It is our responsibility to find out as much as we can while we can.

Food and Water Watch: Fish Farms

Kona Blue Fish Farm

Hawaii Oceanic Technology, Inc

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