05 Feb 09 – Sloweb

From new fish farms on Egypt’s Lake Burullus to the clearing of illegal fishponds in the Philippines and plans for offshore aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico—fishermen, environmentalists, governments and resource managers are heating up the debate on fish farming around the world this week.


In northern Egypt, the governorate of Kafr Al-Sheikh revealed new plans to build fish farms on the northern parts of Lake Burullus, and was met with strong opposition from a local NGO, which is arguing that the project would threaten the environment and the livelihoods of local fishermen.


‘We know their intentions are good. They want to create job opportunities for young people, but the negative impact of such a project on the lake and the fishermen was not considered,’ said Mohamed Al-Feky, chairman of the General Aquatic Resources’ Cooperatives Union, a local NGO.


‘The lake already receives large amounts of sewage, agricultural and industrial run-off – about seven million cubic metres per day,’ said Izzat Awadh, adviser to the agriculture minister for fishing resources, adding that the discharges from the planned farms, including fish waste and unconsumed fodder, would add to pollution.


Meanwhile in the Philippines, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) cleared 85 illegal fish pens across 8 square kilometers of water in Manila Bay this week.


Last year 241 structures were torn down as the DENR took action to cleanup, restore and preserve the bay’s water quality. Fishermen have protested against the move, however the department has stated that it is the fishermen themselves who will benefit greatly from the enforcement of this act, as their fish catch will definitely increase once all the illegal structures are gone.


And in Atlantic waters, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted in favor of a plan to allow offshore fish farming in the gulf this Wednesday, and is now awaiting approval from the US Commerce Department.


Those against the plan claimed the large cages and pens that would be used to raise fish far out to sea would pollute the oceans with waste and chemicals. They are also concerned about possible escape of fish into the wild and interference with native colonies, as farmed fish are often given heavy doses of antibiotics.