Ocean Aquaculture Moves One Step Closer to Reality

A new bill could open up the oceans to fish farming—a move cheered by industry and slammed by environmentalists.

Just off the coast of Hawaii, in the waters beyond the Kona International Airport, five massive steel-and-nylon pens, shaped like spinning tops, are anchored to the Pacific Ocean floor. Twice a week, crews from Blue Ocean Mariculture, a company that farms the net pens, lift them to the surface, where they bob in the air. Then they harvest what’s inside—thousands of Hawaiian yellowtail fish called Kampachi.

Blue Ocean is the only open-ocean fish farm in the United States,says its president, Todd Madsen. But that could soon change. This week, Collin Peterson, the Democratic chair of the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee, and his Republican colleague Steven Pallazzo of Mississippi introduced the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act, a bill that would open up federal waters for fish farming. 

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