More Study Needed On Gulf Pen Farms

Here in Mississippi we are familiar with the raising of catfish in ponds. Millions of pounds of catfish are produced each year in the Mississippi Delta for American tables. Now there is a proposal to raise various types of fish in pens out in the Gulf of Mexico.

While catfish ponds are self contained and are not connected to any bodies of water, the same cannot be said about the proposed pen farms in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council is soliciting comments until January 17th on this proposal. We believe this issue needs additional study and scrutiny before any action is taken.

What happens when the next major hurricane strikes the Gulf of Mexico? Will these pens be washed ashore on our front beaches? What happens to all of the waste that is generated from the fish in the various pens? Does this create more pollution in the Gulf as you have a large concentration of fish in a small area? If some type of fish disease breaks out among the penned fish, how will this affect the game fish in the Gulf of Mexico?

One commercial fishermen recently said there are enough obstructions already out in the Gulf, that we don't need any more structures to have to dodge.

While pen fishing probably has a lot of good benefits, there is still too much unknown at this time to allow this proposal to go thorough. We urge the Fisheries Management Council to slow down the process and do more study before deciding on whether to proceed with pen farms, which could affect our most precious resource - the Gulf of Mexico.