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Fish Factor

Policy makers charge forward with plans to expand U.S. aquaculture
By Laine Welch


January 13, 2007

Like it or not, policy makers are charging forward with plans to expand U.S. aquaculture output five fold by 2020. Last week the Marine Aquaculture Task Force unveiled recommendations to help guide development of the new industry, which will let offshore fish farmers lay claim to vast parcels of the sea.

The farms will be colonies of undersea cages brimming with swimming livestock, anchored in U.S. waters from three to 200 miles from shore.

Above all, the task force urges Congress to create laws ensuring strong environmental standards are in place to regulate offshore fish farms. At a press conference last week, panel member Alison Rieser said existing laws won't work.

"There is a complex jurisdictional framework over ocean space. To some extent the laws cover the major issues of aquaculture expansion, but they are not well coordinated, there is overlap, and a number of serious gaps," said Reiser, a professor at the Univ. of Hawai'i and coauthor of the leading casebook on ocean and coastal law.

"There is no one lead federal agency that has the power to issue authorization for a private company to occupy a portion of the ocean space for commercial aquaculture and oversee potential impacts," she added.

The panel recommends that all authorities should go to NOAA Fisheries, and not to regional management councils. "It doesn't' seem prudent to have them consider how to balance aquaculture and wild capture fisheries," Reiser said.

Offshore fish farms should be limited to native species, said Becky Goldberg, senior scientist for Environmental Defense. The government should also promote reduction fisheries, or feeder fish, for the aquaculture industry, and develop alternatives to wild ingredient feeds.

"The upshot is that you have to catch wild fish to feed farmed fish," Goldberg said.

Along with satisfying America's growing appetite for seafood, expanding U.S. aquaculture will reduce the nation's dependence on imports. More than 75 percent of all seafood eaten in the U.S. comes from other countries.

Nearly half of all seafood consumed in the world comes from fish farms, primarily shrimp and salmon. The industry is expanding globally by 10 percent a year compared to two percent in the U.S.

Good regulations and technology advances can address any concerns about aquaculture, and it should be expanded into a profitable U.S. industry, urged task force member Daniel Benetti, Director of Aquaculture at the Univ. of Miami.

"It's going to get done abroad, regardless, and then we're going to import the fish. It's the same production model, even in the clothes we wear - it's all got a U.S. brand but is produced abroad." Find the full report at

Kodiak Solstix

Grab 'em and go jerky sticks made from Kodiak pink salmon made a national splash on the Outdoor Channel's 'North to Alaska' program on the Outdoor Channel. The debut of Kodiak Solstix as a program sponsor and in the form of a 30 second ad resulted in a "staggering" response by viewers, according to Denver-based distributor Bill Gillette.

"I could have set my watch based on the flurry of activity that hit our e-commerce site the minute the TV show aired. It was non stop. Multiple hits and sales per minute," Gillette said, who declined to give the final total. The ad will air for 48 weeks.

Kodiak Solstix, sold under the Alaska Spirit label, were created two years ago by state fisheries biologists Mark Witteveen and Rob Baer. The jerky sticks, which come in spicy pepper and teriyaki flavors, are in snack vending machines in local schools and have gotten the ok by the Anchorage school district. Witteveen said Kodiak Solstix will also use MySpace, YouTube and X-Games athletes to reach out to the youth market. "We are targeting the young, healthy active audience combined with the convenience food market, Witteveen said.

Distributor Bill Gillette called the product a "home run" in the explosive $3 billion meat snacks market. "It's got heart healthy omega 3's, it's wild salmon from a sustainable fishery, high in protein, low fat, super convenient, no need for refrigeration, and it's affordable," he said. Packages of three Solstix sell for about $2.00.

"I believe this will crank up to a level where Alaska Spirit's Solstix could become a major company based up there in Kodiak, Alaska," Gillette said.

Find Kodiak Solstix at .

Fish 'n flush

The bathroom could become your home's most popular attraction simply by adding a Fish 'n Flush ­a toilet tank and working aquarium all in one.

The new product, from California-based AquaOne Technologies, replaces a standard toilet tank fronted by a fully functioning, two and a half gallon aquarium.

"It's a lot of fun and brings a little whimsy into your bathroom. No one has decorated a toilet before, so we're the first to do so," said AquaOne's Dave Parrish.

The novelty "nushnik" has been featured on several major TV networks and been a huge hit at trade shows "It stops them dead in their tracks," he said in a phone interview.

Kids love the product and moms say it helps with potty training. "No fish are harmed in flushing," Parrish is quick to add.

Some customers are using the Fish 'n Flush for frogs and lizards, or as a terrarium. "One guy in Georgia is raising bass in his. Another is housing a crawfish that has molted three times," Parrish said.

The average do-it yourselfer can install the two piece toilet tank in a matter of minutes. Fish n Flush comes fully equipped and sells for $299.


Laine Welch has been covering news of Alaska's seafood industry since 1988. 2007 marks the 16th year that she has been writing this weekly fisheries column. It now appears in nearly 20 newspapers and web outlets.
Contact Laine at msfish[AT]

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