Monday, August 15, 2011

My essay on the history of aquaculture

Lapham's Quarterly recently published my essay on the history of fish farming, "The Mastery of Fish".

The title comes from a line in Roger North's 1713 treatise on fish farming, “A Discourse of Fish and Fish-Ponds," in which he argues "the Mastery of Fish" will lead idle English landed gentry along a path to a happy life.

Check out my essay, share it on Facebook and let me know what you think. It was a blast to research and write.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Back from my blogging hiatus

Just a quick post to say I'm back. The blogging hiatus is over.

My break wasn't for want of material. I'm working on a few aquaculture-related projects right now that I have been remiss in not sharing here. Plus, plenty of aquaculture news has come in over the wire in preceding months that I have failed to chime in on.

It would be a disaster to attempt to cover everything I missed in a single post (hopefully, I'll address the major issues in future posts), so I'll leave you with a photo I took last week at a cod farm in Down East Maine.

It doesn't matter if you work on a fishing boat or fish farm: When a school of mackerel swims by, grab your fishing rod.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Smoking ... err, I mean Salmon Farming...Kills?

The anti-aquaculture rhetoric has heated up with a new group formed to combat what it calls "Big Aquaculture".

The Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture recently launched a new "smoking hot" campaign called "Salmon Farming Kills". It uses similar wording and imagery to the "Smoking Kills" campaign used to combat the tobacco industry.

The marketing campaign is designed to counter those from the aquaculture industry promoting farmed salmon.

The group says this month it will release a report on the dangers of salmon farming -- "Smoke on the Water, Cancer on the Coast".  It will continue with reports on shrimp farming, tuna aquaculture and GE fish.

>> Read the group's entire press release

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Portugal bets on offshore farms to triple aquaculture production

Portugal's Minister of Aquaculture and Fisheries expects an expanding offshore aquaculture sector will help the country triple its aquaculture production by 2015, from 7,000 to 21,000 metric tons, according to a news report from FIS.

The minister, Antonio Serrano, said a "very substantial financial volume" is available through national programs to those interested in operating in the sector.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hawaii leads nation in support of offshore aquaculture

Hawaii Oceanic Technology expects to deploy its Oceanspheres by 2013
Hawaii's Board of Land and Natural Resources this week granted a 35-year lease to Hawaii Oceanic Technology to farm tuna on its 247-acre offshore fish farm, according to a press release from the company.

Bill Spencer, the company's CEO, says the lease sets a "historic precedent for Hawaii and the United States."

The company's site is in state waters, but offshore in 1,320 feet of water. While the United States lacks a regulatory framework to permit offshore fish farms in federal waters, Hawaii is the only state with a comprehensive legal framework that allows open ocean aquaculture and leasing an ocean column to companies that want to farm the sea, according to the company. 

Hawaii Oceanic Technology, founded in 2006, plans to farm Yellow Fin and Big Eye tunas and market them as “King Ahi”. The company expects to have its first patent-pending fish cage, called the Oceansphere, deployed by 2013.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Chesapeake coop helps oyster fishermen transition to farming

A new cooperative in Virginia is helping some oyster fishermen -- or watermen, as they are known in the Chesapeake -- transition to oyster farmers.

The coop, Oyster Company of Virginia, will lease the farm sites from the state and buy the seed and equipment. Then, 12 former oyster watermen will plant the seeds, harvest and sell the mature oysters. The proceeds will go to pay the watermen and help the coop reinvest in new equipment.

You can read more about the coop in this story from the Daily Press down in Newport.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Debate brews over Maine oyster farm

There is a good article in The Working Waterfront about broiling opposition to a proposed oyster farm in Down East Maine.

A company called Acadia Sea Farms is asking the Maine Department of Marine Resources for a 10-year lease on 50 acres of seabed in Goose Cove, which is near the entrance to Mount Desert Island. The public hearing on the proposed oyster farm has gone on for three nights and will continue for at least a fourth night, according to The Working Waterfront.

The Friends of Blue Hill Bay and the Friends of Goose Cove Bay are opposing the project, claiming it will harm the health of the bay.

Maine has a good track record in the licensing of aquaculture operations. The state regularly monitors the environmental effects of all aquaculture sites, and considers ecological impacts when considering applications. So, if you trust the DMR to do its job (as we are wont to do), then you need to trust the application process. Plus, oyster farms are some of the biggest success stories. Shellfish actually help clean the water by filtering it.

Since this is my blog, I'll shed my journalistic veil for one moment to share my fear that the opposition's real motive is NIMBYism. This opinion is supported by comments made by Sally Mills, attorney for the Friends of Goose Cove Bay. She said the group's members fear the oyster farm could become a floating industrial zone and could be a shock to waterfront homeowners, according to the The Working Waterfront.

"It's an extension of people's backyards," Mills is quoted as saying.

I wasn't present at these hearings and haven't spoken to those that oppose the farm, so there's a chance they have legitimate concerns that weren't accurately portrayed in a newspaper that covers the working waterfront and whose readers incude fishermen and fish farmers. But this article leads me to believe that we are witnessing NIMBYism in Goose Cove.

NIMBYism irks me. It's a tough nut to crack. On the one hand, I'm a firm believer everyone is entitled to their opinion. On the other, especially in this case, the people opposing the oyster farm are part of a community, one that has been home for years to working fishermen and fish farmers. I guess it boils down to my disbelief that one group of people (waterfront landowners) can be so inconsiderate to the economic pursuits of their neighbors (those who make their living on the water).

Okay, I've replaced my journalistic veil.

Another complaint came from an abutting landowner who also happens to be the manager of the nearby Trenton airport. According to the newspaper, this landowner worries the oyster farm -- more specifically, the birds it will attract -- will interfere with the airplanes taking off and landing at the airport. Certainly a concern, if proved accurate, that the state should take into account.

The Maine Aquaculture Association supports the project. Sebastian Belle, its executive director, lambasted those opposing the project. Belle told the newspaper that Mills is "looking for everything she can to scare people" and that the opposition is evidence of a class conflict waged by people who have "the luxury not to make their living on the water".

The fourth public hearing will be held in late October or early November, according to The Working Waterfront.

What do you think about the opposition to this oyster farm?