January 20 – San Diego Coastkeeper Says Environmental Protection Agency Should Deny Application for Industrial Fish Farm

Organization says proposed fish factory would threaten the health of San Diego’s ocean

San Diego, CA – January 20, 2016 – Last week, San Diego Coastkeeper formally requested the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deny a discharge permit for the Rose Canyon Aquaculture Project, a partnership between Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute and a private equity firm, to construct a massive fish farm 3.6 miles off the coast of Ocean Beach. Coastkeeper, which protects fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego County, says that the fish factory would likely result in significant environmental impacts and set bad national precedent.

“We want sustainable, wild fish populations that produce healthy food and support fishing businesses in balance with good water quality and a healthy ecosystem–and this isn’t the answer,” said Matt O’Malley, Coastkeeper’s Waterkeeper and Legal and Policy Director. “This proposal would bring into our backyard a super-sized 11-million-pound commercial fish factory and its associated pollution, potential for spreading disease, and commercial ship traffic.”

Offshore aquaculture is the mass farming of fish in the ocean, but it’s not fishing. Coastkeeper says it’s similar to industrial feedlots for cattle or chickens and the environmental, animal welfare, and human health issues associated with these large-scale meat production facilities. Currently, offshore aquaculture of finfish (distinct from shellfish) doesn’t exist in United States’ federal waters, which start at three miles offshore and extend 200 miles from the coastline.

Currently, the federal government has no comprehensive regulations allowing for the use of public waters for offshore fish aquaculture and no system in place to measure the environmental impact of those projects or to predictably identify, address, and mitigate those impacts.

In its January 13 letter to the EPA, San Diego Coastkeeper called attention to the national importance of the San Diego proposal while requesting a denial of the permit. At a minimum Coastkeeper asserts that Congress must establish a clear federal regulatory framework for all aspects of the offshore aquaculture permitting process before any project even be considered. Specifically for the Rose Canyon Aquaculture project, the organization asked for denial of the permit based on the lack of such regulations, property rights, and the significant negative environmental impacts that would result from the project.

To learn more about the proposal for a commercial fish factory off Ocean Beach’s shoreline, please visit this page on San Diego Coastkeeper’s website. To reach Coastkeeper’s complete comment letter, please find the formal materials on Coastkeeper’s website.


San Diego Coastkeeper
Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects and restores fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego County. For more information, visit San Diego Coastkeeper online at https://www.sdcoastkeeper.org.