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Aquaculture report reassuring

Published: Tue, January 21, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

The Providence (R.I.) Journal: A new report should allay concerns about the environmental and ecological risks associated with coastal ocean aquaculture, especially the raising of finfish, such as salmon, in pens in near-shore waters.

Critics have argued that the concentration of wastes and unconsumed feed in such situations degrades ocean habitats and is a vector for disease and other harms that risk decimating viable wild fisheries. They also point to the danger of escaped farm-raised fish, often bred to be larger than their wild cousins, upsetting natural balances, overeating food sources and disrupting ancient genetic strains by interbreeding with wild stocks.

A study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration should go some way toward dispelling such concerns. It evaluated such effects as interactions with water quality, ocean habitats and marine life in view of a range of farming practices and types.

Specific types of fish farming can be accomplished with minimal or no harm to coastal ocean environments if diligent planning and safeguards are in place.

Fish, farmed or raised, provides healthy protein and demand is great, to the point that fisheries around the world report declining stocks.

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