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Letters to the Editor: 3-20-17

March 20, 2017 - 12:05am

Time to pull plug on open ocean fish farm

A critically endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal (RB18) was recently found dead inside a submerged fish pen maintained by Blue Ocean Mariculture, “BOM”, at Keahole Point.

Preliminary investigations by NOAA point to drowning as the cause of death. Blue Ocean Mariculture stated that a side panel was removed from the net pen to let a shark out of the pen, and that is how RB18 entered the cage. RB18 tried to surface to breathe, but the submerged cage prevented him from surfacing. Tragically, the seal was trapped and suffocated from his inability to escape the pen.

Both the shark and the seal were feeding on fish corralled in, and around, the net cage. If a side panel was removed, then farmed fish likely escaped into the wild. Under previous ownership, a tiger shark was reported being killed. There have also been incidents reported of fish escaping from the pen when a door was accidentally left open. Finally, the Kona Kampachi were found to have parasites and treated with medications. According to the original EIS, most of these scenarios were “not supposed to happen” and the prior company promised to take steps to ensure that appropriate safeguards were in place to protect the marine environment. Tell that to the tiger shark that was shot, and monk seal RB18 that drowned. Tell that to the escaped fish with parasites that can potentially infect our akule and opelu. The truth is, offshore mariculture is not the clean “feed the world panacea” that industry promoters would lead us to believe.

It is time to pull the plug on this open ocean fish farm. This is not good stewardship of the ocean, as is claimed on the Blue Ocean Mariculture website. The company knows that seals hang out there. It is like a buffet line for seals, dolphins, sharks and other species.

This incident is being investigated by NOAA and the permitting agencies, DLNR and ACE. The public deserves to know exactly what is being done at Blue Ocean Mariculture and the consequences of the negligence allowing RB18 to drown in the pen.

Wendy Minor


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