Jan 282009
 

The UT has some positive words (in fact, it sounds a little like a press release) about a fish farm proposal from Hubbs-SeaWorld. The fish farm would be located off Mission Beach and would grow striped bass. This would be the first in the county, but not in the area. A 30 minute drive into Mexico or a trip to the Coronado Islands would yield a number of fish pen sightings – mostly tuna exports for Japan.

As Jay at the Linkery states, these fish farms would have a negative impact on our local environment:

Concentrated animal feedlot operations degrade their environment, propagate antibiotic-resistant disease, and ultimately provide second-rate nutrition, because the animals aren’t eating their natural food. Feedlots’ “positive economic effects” are simply that they exploit certain subsidies in our economy (commodity crops and unregulated environmental damages) to externalize most of their costs and thus make money for their operators.

He also states that this method of raising fish also ultimately impacts other areas of the country:

Just as in the movement of cattle to feedlots, they’re saying we can raise cheap fish by feeding them something that’s not their natural diet, but which is cheap. Of course, commodity corn is grown primarily through the use of fossil fuel, and is a big cause of the degradation of the soil and of rural communities in the Midwest, and the water in the Gulf of Mexico.

I agree with everything Jay wrote, his post is worth a read. Yet even believing all of the above, a part of me also believes the fish farms could have two positive effects. The first is California pollution controls. If we don’t farm the fish I believe some other country will. This country will probably have much lower standards for pollution controls and the health of local populations. We can probably do it cleaner here than China can and perhaps even set the bar higher.

The second reason is that we need more awareness of our food sourcing. The US is a net importer of sea food – most of the US population has no idea where our seafood comes from, or the damage that its harvest may have caused. The ocean stocks are on the brink of collapse, yet there is no problem walking into any seafood (or sushi) restaurant in the county and ordering whatever type of fish you want. Local production will force us to confront many of the ills that industrial farming produces. This will hopefully encourage people to think about where their food comes from and make better decisions.

Would the positive effects outweigh the negative effects? I’m not sure. I am probably being too optimistic, or naive about our ability to do it better or change peoples behavior. All the same, I think it is in everyone’s best interest to avoid NIMBY behavior.

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