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Aquarium Brings Together Stakeholders to Deal with Looming Seafood Crisis

Aquarium Brings Together Stakeholders to Deal with Looming Seafood Crisis
Chris Bridger

Aquatic Forum

September 26, 2008

U.S. dependence on foreign seafood ranks 3rd behind foreign oil in the nation’s trade deficits. New solution can reduce California’s carbon footprint while serving as a stimulus to the state’s economy

The Aquarium of the Pacific brought together government agencies, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, and other stakeholders this past week to look at solutions for dealing with the looming seafood crisis. Over 2/3 of the world’s wild fish stocks are currently fished at or over sustainable levels, and it is predicted that the entire wild seafood industry could collapse in 50 years unless solutions are sought today.

“Creating California-farmed, environmentally friendly seafood products has the potential to reduce our carbon footprint, decrease pressures on wild fish species, reduce our importation of seafood, and increase state revenues,” said Jerry Schubel, Aquarium of the Pacific CEO and session leader.

During the session, opponents challenged why another state or country shouldn’t be the one to solve the problem. However, by the end of the two-day session, there was agreement that California could reap economic benefits while at the same time establishing strict environmental standards for the rest of the nation to follow. Participants agreed that with proper planning, including siting, control of environmental impacts, and monitoring and enforcement, fish could be farmed in a sustainable manner off the coast of Southern California.

The U.S. imports over 70 percent of its seafood. California exceeds the national average with over 80 percent of its seafood coming from abroad, most from Asia. Producing locally farmed seafood could reduce California’s carbon footprint on these imports, which rank third to our dependence on foreign oil. Consumers could rely on a safe and secure supply of fresh sustainable seafood. California residents also stand to benefit financially. It is estimated that an offshore finfish aquaculture industry in less than one percent of state waters could bring in up to $1 billion.

Attendees included decision makers from state and federal aquaculture programs. The Aquarium’s session is timely since the state of California is currently developing guidelines pertaining to offshore aquaculture.

In 2006 the Aquarium of the Pacific co-founded the Sustainable Seafood Forum, comprised of leading scientists, restaurateurs, and seafood suppliers nationwide. For information visit http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/conservation/sustainable_seafood_forum/.

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