As reported by ABC News, Blue Water Fisheries, a New Hampshire group, wants to be the first to offshore fish farming in New England waters to raise salmon and trout. This project has consequently brought the attention of different environmental rights associations.
The majority of U.S. aquaculture is in tanks and ponds. However, according to federal documents accessed by The Associated Press, this aquaculture project would be different. Blue Water Fisheries wants to establish 40 submersible fish pens in the water about 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) off Newburyport, Massachusetts, at two sites totaling nearly a square mile.
This size offshore farm would produce "up to 25.6 million pounds of a combination of rainbow trout and Atlantic salmon annually," the documents state. It also specifies that the company's year-round operations would be based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
According to ABC News, the project also includes a proposal for the aquaculture of lumpfish. Although everything points to the fact that it would not be for consumption, since this is a species of fish that can be used for parasite control.
For the moment, the company has not commented on its plans. In addition, as reported by ABC News, Scott Flood, who is listed as Blue Water Fisheries' representative in the documents, refused to comment on the project. Other representatives of the company also refused to comment according to ABC News.
The pioneering project on the East Coast, however, needs federal approvals to move forward. As reported by ABC News, which spoke with Allison Ferreira, a spokeswoman for the agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is working with Blue Water Fisheries and other federal agencies in the regulatory and approval process. This process requires approvals from NOAA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among others.
Aquaculture of Atlantic salmon in ocean pens already takes place in New England, specifically by Cooke Aquaculture in Maine. However, these operations are in coastal areas.
The project has attracted the attention of conservation groups since salmon are listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and one of the risks of this type of fish farm is the escape of the fish. These groups also argue that fish farms are bad for the environment because of the use of antibiotics and pesticides.
Nevertheless, some are in favor of the project. Both salmon and trout are two popular species, so aquaculture can provide relief from fishing pressure on wild fish stocks.