Groups Praise Committee Recommendation to Exclude Farmed Salmon from Organic Standards

USDA urged to permanently prohibit open net-cage systems and carnivorous

fish from forthcoming U.S. organic aquaculture standards

Mar 26, 2007, 01:00 ET from Pure Salmon Campaign

    WASHINGTON, March 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Organic
 Standards Board (NOSB) Livestock Committee is recommending that fish raised
 in open net-cages and those using wild caught fish in their diet be
 excluded from forthcoming (USDA) organic aquaculture standards. Three major
 groups are commending United States Department of Agriculture the Committee
 for upholding the principles of organic production and are urging the NOSB
 to follow the Committee's lead when they meet in Washington, D.C. tomorrow
 through Thursday, March 29 to discuss the Committee's organic aquaculture
     "We're extremely pleased with the Committee's recommendations because
 no matter how stringent and well intentioned organic standards for
 aquaculture are, open net-cages just don't fit under the organic umbrella,"
 said Dom Repta, from the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform. "The
 evidence in British Columbia shows that open net-cage technology does not
 prevent the discharge of untreated waste or the escape of farmed fish and
 allows continued impacts on marine predators such as seals and sea lions,
 the transfer of sea lice to wild salmon and the contamination of aboriginal
 food sources."
     In prepared comments, the groups have offered support for organic
 certification of non-carnivorous fish farmed in closed systems, but stress
 that farming carnivorous fish in open net-cage systems violates core
 organic principles. The groups cite scientific evidence from around the
 world that shows open net-cage fish farms cannot meet the standards for
 ecological protection to which current organic practitioners must adhere.
 In addition, carnivorous species that use more wild fish for feed than
 farmed fish produced increase the pressure on already diminishing global
 wild fish populations.
     "The USDA must now take a strong stance on organic aquaculture
 certification to ensure that the entire 'organic' label is not diluted,"
 said Andrea Kavanagh, director of the Pure Salmon Campaign. "To make sure
 consumers are getting what they pay for when they buy 'organic' seafood,
 we're asking the U.S. to permanently close the door on organic
 certification for open net- cage fish farming and the farming of
 carnivorous fish like salmon."
     While the NOSB has been developing organic aquaculture regulations,
 consumers are increasingly seeing seafood products labeled as "organic" in
 U.S. supermarkets. These products are being imported from countries that
 allow certain practices, such as the use of open net-cages and the
 administration of chemicals to control parasites and diseases, to be
 considered organic.
     "Under U.S. law there is no such thing as organic seafood right now,"
 stated Joseph Mendelson, Legal Director for the Center for Food Safety.
 "Any products labeled as such mislead consumers. The USDA has the authority
 to stop this threat to the integrity of the organic label and should act to
 enforce the law."
     Rick Moonen, chef and co-owner of RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay Resort &
 Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, is part of the chorus of support commending
 the Committee's recommendation to exclude open net-cages from organic
 aquaculture standards. Tomorrow, Moonen will present a letter to the NOSB
 on behalf of 19 U.S. chefs that reads:
     "As professionals that depend on quality, healthy and sustainable
 ingredients, we are avid supporters of 'organic' systems. If the U.S.
 chooses to water down its organic standards to accommodate carnivorous
 farmed fish species from open net cage systems, however, it seriously risks
 losing our confidence in the USDA organic brand as a whole."
     Rather than modifying organic standards to fit the needs of salmon
 farming, the Pure Salmon Campaign and the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture
 Reform are working to improve the sustainability of the industry as a whole
 by fostering a transition from open net-cages to closed containment
 systems. Closed containment technology would eliminate many of the
 environmental problems associated with open net-cage fish farms such as
 escapes, spread of sea lice and interactions with marine predators that
 organic aquaculture standards for open net-cages cannot adequately address.
     The Pure Salmon Campaign ( is a global
 project of the National Environmental Trust that partners with
 organizations in the United States, Canada, Europe and Chile all working to
 improve the way farmed salmon is produced.
     The Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform
 ( is a coalition of nine conservation
 groups, First Nations and scientists throughout British Columbia who have
 been working collaboratively for over 10 years to protect wild salmon and
 ocean ecosystems.
     The Center for Food Safety ( is a
 non- profit, membership organization that works to protect human health and
 the environment by curbing the proliferation of harmful food production
 technologies and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable
     The NOSB's Livestock Committee meeting agenda (March 27-29) is
 available at:
     The NOSB's Livestock Committee recommendations on "Aquaculture
 Standards" can be found at:
 st ock/AquacultureRec.pdf.
     Public comments in response to the NOSB Livestock Committee
 Recommendations can be viewed at: and searching
 for: All documents; Keyword: AMS-TM-07-0032.
     Previous comments (October 2006) to the NOSB Livestock Committee on the
 Aquaculture Working Group draft standards can be viewed at:
     The chef letter to the NOSB can be viewed at:
     CONTACT:  Dave Bard, Pure Salmon Campaign, (202) 486-4426
               Joseph Mendelson, Center for Food Safety, (202) 547-9359,
               Cell (703) 244-1724
               Shauna MacKinnon, Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform,
               (604) 696-5044
               Dom Repta, Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform,
               (202) 251-3997

SOURCE Pure Salmon Campaign