CAGJ has joined the Don’t Cage Our Oceans campaign to ban offshore finfish farming, with long-time partners including North American Marine Alliance (NAMA) and National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), to advocate for better fish farming and fishing practices in the USA. The campaign is calling on the Biden administration to revoke Executive Order 13921, which the Trump administration approved in 2020 to promote seafood competitiveness and economic growth within the U.S. The order approved offshore finfish farming, the fishing practice in which fish are farmed and raised in cages in the ocean, far from shorelines. These practices are equivalent to sea-based factory farms. Rather than eating smaller fish in the waters that surround them, these farmed fish are given feed or pellets that consist of smaller fish from farther away oceans. Some argue this kind of aquaculture makes up for the lack of wild salmon. Farmed fish is bought and served in many markets and restaurants because they’re cheaper, abundant, and more consistent (Barber 2014).
However, it also brings with it the risk of pollution, dead zones, fish escapes, animal entanglements, and disruptions to the local economy. Additionally, large scale finfish farming has only really benefited middle-class consumers. While it is not inherently bad to purchase and consume farmed fish that is produced at a small or medium-scale, many people, even chefs, would “prefer the real thing” (Barber 2014). As consumers, chefs, and fishers, many of us understand that the way our food is made, distributed, and eaten could be better. Realistically, we can all participate in small changes, critiquing big businesses, and pushing for better government policies that would make fish farming better.
Many people are already working towards better fish farming and fishing practices in the USA. Washington state has made significant progress in banning net pens, acknowledging that offshore finfish farming has threatened wild salmon populations. We can take action now to push for fish farming practices that benefit the fish, the waters, and people.
Contact President Biden to revoke Executive Order 13921. Click here.
Paper source: Barber, D. (2014). Chapter 17. In The third plate: Field Notes on the future of food (pp. 234 – 250). The Penguin Press.