One of the two Democratic congressmen announced as seeking the state’s vacant U.S. Senate seat is urging the Commerce Department not to expand its jurisdiction to regulate aquaculture at a time “when it is failing its core fisheries mission to restore wild stocks, like cod, haddock and flounder.”
U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey of Malden, who, along with Congressman Stephen Lynch of South Boston, has declared for the special election race to fill the seat long held by John F. Kerry, wrote to Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank to advise against any NOAA approval of a pending proposal to regulate a future aquaculture farm in the Gulf of Mexico under the terms of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
”Congress did not intend for NOAA to regulate aquaculture as a fishery under the (Magnuson-Stevens Act),” Markey wrote. “I share the skepticism of fishermen in my home state of Massachusetts over NOAA”s ability to take on this additional responsibility.”
Under outgoing NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco, the agency has begun emphasizing aquaculture in the U.S., which is a bit player, producing less than $1 billion in product value in a $70 billion global market. Gloucester, in the early days of the last century, had an experimental cod aquaculture facility on Ten Pound Island.
“Aquaculture has great potential to create economic growth and jobs in coastal communities while increasing the supply of domestic seafood in the U.S.,” Markey wrote to Blank. “It always has the potential to negatively impact existing wild fisheries, harm the marine environment, and concentrate profit and poweer in the hands of a few large corporations, to the detriment of fishing towns like Gloucester, New Bedford and Chatham that are simply struggling to survive.”
Markey added that he was anticipating a decision this week by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, one of eight established under directive by Congress in the Magnuson-Stevens Act, request that its parent NOAA permit and regulate offshore aquaculture operations.