Areas of the Santa Barbara Channel are the focus of future aquaculture development, including harmful finfish aquaculture projects. Channelkeeper recently joined the Center for Food Safety, fishermen organizations, other nonprofits, and the Quinault Indian Nation in suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over its issuance of Nationwide Permit 56, which authorizes the development of offshore finfish farming structures. We are claiming that the federal agency issued the permit without a thorough analysis of its potential impacts on our ocean ecosystems, water quality, public health, fishing communities, and endangered and threatened species.
Certain types of aquaculture projects, such as those for shellfish and seaweed, may produce benefits that outweigh the drawbacks. However, offshore finfish aquaculture operations that produce species like tuna or tilapia in offshore nets, pods, and cages present more significant risks to the environment.
Potential impacts to the marine ecosystem include water quality impairment from fish feed, dead fish, fecal waste, chemicals, antibiotics, and marine debris; the spread of diseases that can affect populations of wild fish; the escape of farmed fish into the natural environment, risking the genetic integrity of wild populations; and the depletion of small fish populations that are used as feed for farmed fish and therefore, less available for wild fish, birds, and marine life. In addition, there is currently no adequate permit program in place to regulate aquaculture operations in federal waters or strong standards to protect the marine environment from the impacts of finfish aquaculture.
By joining this lawsuit, Channelkeeper hopes to ensure that all appropriate precautions are taken and measures are in place to protect the Santa Barbara Channel from the potentially destructive impacts of industrial offshore finfish aquaculture.
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