Gulf Of Mexico Open For Fish Farming

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Soon companies will be able to farm fish in the Gulf of Mexico. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has opened federal waters to aquaculture.

NOAA administrator Kathryn Sullivan said producers could use round or rectangular pens to raise native fish in the gulf, similar to these salmon pens in the Faroe Islands. ERIK CHRISTENSEN / WIKIMEDIA.ORG/WIKI/USER:ERIK_CHRISTENSEN

NOAA administrator Kathryn Sullivan said producers could use round or rectangular pens to raise native fish in the gulf, similar to these salmon pens in the Faroe Islands.
ERIK CHRISTENSEN / WIKIMEDIA.ORG/WIKI/USER:ERIK_CHRISTENSEN

After getting a permit from NOAA, companies will be able to anchor giant cages and raise everything from red drum to almaco jack in federal waters, which start three miles off the coast in Louisiana.

NOAA administrator Kathryn Sullivan made the announcement while in New Orleans for an American Meteorological Society meeting on Monday.

When asked about the competition it could create for local fishermen, she said, “The bigger picture is the opportunity this represents for Gulf communities to displace imports, and have the redfish served on American restaurant plates and homes be sustainably-sourced United States redfish.”

She says a huge portion of the seafood Americans eat is imported from other countries.

Harlon Pearce, owner of Harlon’s Fish and Seafood in Kenner, says Gulf of Mexico aquaculture is going to completely change the seafood industry, he hopes for the better.

“We put Americans to work, we put some of the wild fishermen to work when they’re hauling fish from the farms to the shore and things like that, so there’s a lot of opportunities here,” he says.

Fish farming in the Gulf won’t happen right away. Companies can apply for permits starting in a month, but it could take two years to get one.