Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 30, 2005

Fish farming will not destroy natural fisheries

The Sun's editorial "Wiping out watermen" (Aug. 23) was misleading.

The Bush administration proposal to permit fish farms in federal marine waters is designed to complement, not eliminate, the commercial and recreational fisheries that depend on fish wild stocks.

While it is true that some U.S. marine fish stocks are overfished, plans are in place to reduce fishing levels in the short term, and progress is being made in rebuilding those stocks. And the reality is that commercial fisheries functioning at fully sustainable levels will not be able to keep pace with increasing consumer demand for seafood.

We currently import almost 70 percent of our seafood, and that figure is projected to rise. The annual U.S. seafood trade deficit, which exceeds $7 billion, is second only to oil and gas in trade of natural resources.

If the United States is going to meet the growing demand for seafood, domestic fish farming will have to play a pivotal role. If it does not, we will cede this opportunity to other countries where fish farming is rapidly expanding to meet global demand.

Despite the misinformation campaign being waged against the bill, the establishment of rigorous environmental standards for fish farming is central to the National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2005.

But first the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the nation's oceans agency, must get authority from Congress to move forward and set standards.

William T. Hogarth

Silver Spring

The writer is assistant administrator for fisheries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Farming helps meet the demand for fish

The Sun's "Wiping out watermen" editorial (Aug. 23) failed to accurately portray the state of our fisheries. Marylanders need the complete story when it comes to the seafood industry's efforts to protect fish stocks and the environment.

The seafood industry supports sustainable fishing and understands that overfishing is harmful to the ecosystem and jeopardizes our livelihood. Commercial fishing interests work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and regional resource management councils to ensure we have enough fish to eat now and in the future.

But consumer demand for good-tasting and nutritious fish and seafood far outweighs what wild capture can produce at a sustainable level. Because we need to grow enough fish to meet the demand, fish farming is part of the future of the industry and a complement to wild-capture fisheries - not a replacement for them.

The seafood industry wants to ensure an abundant supply of high-quality fish for generations to come, and is committed to the survival of fish and fishermen.

One way Marylanders can help is by continued work to protect habitats such as the Chesapeake Bay from controllable threats such as suburban and agricultural runoff, littering and inadequate wastewater treatment.

John Connelly

McLean, Va.

The writer is president of the National Fisheries Institute.

Keep Arctic refuge free of development

There are so few areas man has not disturbed or destroyed in the name of progress. Let us hope that our representatives will vote against any bill that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development.

Conservation, not consumption, should be everyone's priority.

Patricia McAllister

Centreville

Reverse the rise in state property tax

The only fair and decent thing for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to do with the $1.2 billion state surplus is to reduce the state portion of property taxes ("Surplus of over $1 billion reported," Aug. 26).

Mr. Ehrlich slipped in an increase in the state property tax shortly after taking office. As a result, an average single-family home-owner pays $120 more per year for his or her property tax bill.

Many people don't even know how much they pay in state property taxes, but those of us who keep score feel the increase was uncalled for and should be rescinded.

David Boyd

White Hall

Asking our children to die for a mistake

Buried deep within the article "Bush quotes military mother on war" (Aug. 25) is the fact that the Pentagon announced that 1,500 more American troops would be sent to Iraq soon.

Well, I suppose this makes sense, since more than 1,800 American troops have been killed in Iraq so far.

With a population of almost 300 million, the United States should be able to keep this up for years to come.

But if an average of 720 American lives lost per year for a war based on lies sounds unappealing to you, then it's time to figure out how to get out of Iraq without throwing the whole region into chaos.

Or we can keep asking our children to give up their lives to meet a threat that never existed and solve a problem that was created by the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Michael Johnson

Baltimore

Treating babies like mere objects

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