WASHINGTON, D.C. – Citing the importance of maintaining healthy, wild fish stocks, Senator Lisa Murkowski today re-introduced legislation to prohibit the development of any new offshore aquaculture operations in federal waters. The Natural Stock Conservation Act of 2007 prohibits the development of aquaculture facilities in federal waters until Congress has had an opportunity to review all of the serious implications, and make decisions on how such development should proceed. The bill also requires that federal agencies consult with the governor of any state near the aquaculture site, and that permits be approved by the regional fishery management council with jurisdiction in the region. “Alaska’s naturally healthy wild fish species, such as salmon, halibut, sablefish and crab are extremely important to our people and provide for sport, subsistence and commercial uses,” said Murkowski. “We cannot afford a rush to judgment on this issue – it is far too dangerous if we make a mistake. The legislation I am introducing today will establish the process for debate on whether to allow offshore aquaculture.” Murkowski also voiced concerns regarding the Administration’s proposal to allow aquaculture development to occur. The Administration is in the final stages of preparing a bill to allow offshore aquaculture development, and it plans to send the bill to Congress in the very near future. “While the Administration’s draft bill is an improvement over past proposals, it still does not establish clear mandatory environmental standards for the aquaculture industry,” said Murkowski. “I remain steadfast that any proposal should meet the standards of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and the Jones Act.” In closing Murkowski said, “We all want to make sure we enjoy abundant supplies of healthy foods in the future, but not if it means unnecessary and avoidable damage to wild species, to the environment generally, and to the economies of America’s coastal fishing communities.” ###