Farming the Deep Blue Sea
Interested in starting a company likely to make millions while creating jobs and providing Americans with high-quality, nutritious, and tasty dinners? Step one: take your entrepreneurial energy and investment capital to another country and build your company there. Why? Well, here are some reasons listed by Bill Frezza, a venture capitalist and fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute:
Getting the required permits and licenses to operate a deep-water fish farm in the U.S. would require running the gantlet of dozens of federal and state regulatory agencies, some with overlapping jurisdictions and none with a mandate to lead the process. Agencies would include the Environmental Protection Agency, Army Corps of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife Service, Food and Drug Administration, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Regulations that would have to be complied with include the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Jones Act, OSHA rules, and who knows how many others. Regional Fishery Management Councils and various state agencies involved in historic preservation and tourism would all have a say. (RealClearMarkets article source.)
Open Blue is the firm, and their deep sea fishing operations are off the coast of Panama, where founder Brian O’Hanlon believes the government regulatory process to be less costly and complex than in the U.S.
Fish farms far out to sea have many advantages over those close to shore. Bill Frezza notes deep sea operations are “where swift currents carry away and disperse the waste produced by concentrated fish stocks, it would allow the farmed fish to swim in the same fresh water as their wild cousins–the best of both worlds.”
Mr. Frezza also notes that NOAA did try some years ago to streamline permitting:
NOAA made several attempts a decade ago to promote a national aquatic farming initiative that would cut through the red tape and set up a one-stop-shop for deep-water fish farming permits. Bills were introduced in Congress twice but were shot down due to opposition from entrenched fishing interests.
This 2009 CNN article looks at Brian O’Hanlon’s Open Blue enterprise. As sometimes happens, wild entrepreneurial ideas like open seas fish farming follow years of obsessive entrepreneurial experiments at home:
[O’Hanlon] drove a pickup from Long Island to the Alabama coast, where he rode a boat 50 miles offshore and caught 10 red snapper. He put the fish in a 2,000-liter fiberglass tank that he’d jerry-rigged with oxygen and water-filtering systems, towed them back to New York in a U-Haul and dropped them into a 3,000-gallon tank installed in his parents’ basement. (Luckily for O’Hanlon, his family was equally fish-obsessed.)
If you’ve filled your parent’s basement with fish tanks, you may have a future in aquaculture too. Future fish matter for the good health of millions. Farmed fish can reduce pressure on wild catches (though many are concerned that farmed salmon escape and harm wild salmon populations).
Meanwhile, off the coast of Ireland, the BIM [Bord Iascaigh Mhara] Irish Sea Fisheries Board has applied for a license to raise Atlantic salmon about a mile offshore (1.7 km). The BIM articl notes that United Nations (FAO) says “42 million tonnes of farmed seafood will be required annually by the year 2030” The proposed BIM operation off Galway Bay “could produce up to 15,000 tonnes of organic salmon every year.”