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November 24, 2008

Gulf offshore fish farms on hold

Local authorities will wait for a national policy decision

In a recent meeting in Moblie, Alabama, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council decided to delay a vote on allowing the first commercial offshore fish farms in federal waters. Critics of these planned farms urged the council to wait for a national policy to be developed. The council reset the vote for its January meeting in Bay St. Louis, MS.

There are many pros and cons to these aquaculture operations including fears that the large breeding pens could harm recreational fishing and the marine environment.

If allowed, officials predict anywhere from five to 20 so-called "fish farms" could be permitted in the Gulf over the next decade, producing annually up to 64 million pounds of snapper, grouper, cobia and red drum.