Fish farms in coastal waters environmentally safe, U.S. report says

Dec. 19, 2013 at 5:39 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Certain kinds of fish farming, with proper planning and safeguards, can be undertaken with little or no harm to coastal ocean environments, U.S. officials say.

Researchers with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration conducted a study of aquaculture, focusing on environmental effects on water quality, coastal habitats and other marine life.

"We did this study because of concerns that putting marine finfish farms in the coastal ocean could have adverse effects on the environment," James Morris, an ecologist with the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, said. "We found that, in cases where farms are appropriately sited and responsibly managed, impacts to the environment are minimal to non-existent."

Development of regional best-management practices and standardized protocols for environmental monitoring are key needs for aquaculture managers as a aquaculture development increases in the coastal ocean, the researchers said.

The ability to forecast immediate or long-term environmental concerns about aquaculture, such as undertaken in the NOAA study, will provide confidence to coastal managers and the public, officials said.

"This report contributes to the growing body of evidence supporting marine aquaculture as a sustainable source of safe, healthy and local seafood that supports jobs in coastal communities," Sam Rauch, acting assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries, said.

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