The Center for Food Safety (CFS) has issued a report challenging the proposed organic aquaculture production regulations under consideration by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Titled Like Water and Oil: Ocean-Based Fish Farming and Organic Don’t Mix, the report argues that USDA should reject proposed standards that would allegedly dilute the value of organic certification by allowing the agency’s seal to appear on fish products sourced from ocean-based farms.
In addition to citing the high number of fish escapes reported in the previous two decades, CFS claims that “open-ocean fish farms can never be organic,” partly because synthetic chemicals prohibited under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) are ubiquitous in the marine environment. The group also alleges that open-ocean farming not only alters the natural behavior of migratory fish in violation of OFPA, but harms wild fisheries by using wildcaught fish as a feed source.
“It’s mind-boggling to think that USDA would seriously consider allowing fish farms at sea to be organic,” said CFS Organic Policy Director Lisa Bunin in an October 21, 2014, press release. “It’s absolutely impossible to control or monitor the wide range of substances, including toxic pollutants, that flow into and out of sea-based farms.”