Agri-business News Exclusive Economic Zone of the United States

Published on May 19th, 2011 | by Heather Carr

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HR 574 – A Bill to Prohibit Factory Fish Farming in U.S. Ocean Waters

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Representative Don Young submitted a bill in February that, if passed, will prohibit factory fish farming in U.S. ocean waters.

H.R. 574 is intended:

To prohibit the Secretary of Interior and the Secretary of Commerce from authorizing commercial finfish aquaculture operations in the Exclusive Economic Zone except in accordance with a law authorizing such action.

The bill is very short – just two pages. Most of that is white space and formal language. Here’s the text of the bill:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, neither the Secretary of the Interior nor the Secretary of Commerce may issue any permit or in any other way authorize any person to conduct commercial finfish aquaculture operations in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the United States (as established by Proclamation Numbered 5030, dated March 10, 1983), except in accordance with a law authorizing such action that is enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act.

You can read the whole thing here (pdf).

Representative Don Young is from Alaska, which has a thriving fishing industry. Many of the fisheries are run by locals, even though many are large industrial operations, and the money goes back to the communities there.

Alaska has a lot to lose if factory fish farms get established and pollute the waters and spread disease to the wild fish. Of course, Alaska is not the only state with ocean borders. The map at the top of the post shows the extent of the Exclusive Economic Zone of the United States referred to in the bill.

Many states already have factory fish farms. The Gulf of Mexico was recently opened to factory fish farming as well.

Rep. Young has been trying to protect the wild fish stocks for a while.  The current bill wouldn’t put an end to factory fish farming; it would keep the federal government from giving permission for national or multinational conglomerates to set up shop whether the locals like it or not and it would give states the power to protect their own fisheries.

What Can You Do?

Contact your representative and senators and let them know you care about this issue.

Ask your representative to co-sponsor H.R. 574. Right now it’s sitting in a subcommittee of the House Committee on Natural Resources, waiting to be looked at. The more co-sponsors a bill has, the more likely it is to move to the floor for a vote.

Food and Water Watch has an easy form to take action and contact your representative. Or you can write your own letter.

Image by David E. Guggenheim, used with Creative Commons license.

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About the Author

Heather Carr loves food, politics, and innovative ways to make the world a better place. She counts Jacques Pepin and Speed Racer among her inspirations. You can find her on Facebook or .



  • http://Web Canadian Fish Farmer

    I hope you realize that this bill will also shut down most of the salmon fishing in Alaska, as fish farms and hatcheries put out 1.5 billion farmed juvenile salmon each year. Their only excuse is to claim that they are “not for profit”, but in reality they represent a huge economic interest- just like conventional salmon farming companies in BC do.

    • Heather Carr

      This bill won’t shut down existing fish farms and it won’t prohibit new fish farms from being built.

      It keeps the power to make decisions about fish farms in the hands of the state and local governments. Right now, those decisions can be made by people who live far away from the consequences of their actions.

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