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Know the West

Fish farms need decent regulation


The possibility of commercial utilization is not an off-ramp for regulations restricting the importation of non-native species. There are many examples of this, including fishes that may be suitable for aquaculture, and animals that can be, or are, domesticated in other parts of the world. Your short article “Latest: Washington state bans fish farms” (HCN, 4/16/18) appears to be referring to animals or plants that are already commercially reared within a state, such as dairy cattle or catfish. Even there, most states have regulations that would bar releasing the animals into the wild.

This example in Washington certainly shows that there were inadequate regulations in place, even though there is a valuable native salmon resource to protect. Net-pen rearing of fish has been illegal in adjacent Oregon for over 30 years, and substantial regulations are in place for pond aquaculture. Nevertheless, some problems have occurred there as well. Commercial aquaculture — like agriculture — has a larger incentive to control costs than to minimize adverse impacts on the land and water.

Douglas DeHart
Oregon City, Oregon