For Immediate Release:
May 3, 2021
Tapi Mbundure 202-483-7382
Washington – In his first 100 days in office, President Joe Biden reversed many of his predecessor’s decisions that jeopardized wildlife and the environment—and in a letter sent to Biden this morning, PETA and Seaspiracy producer Kip Andersen ask him to take aim at one more: Executive Order 13921, which the Trump administration issued to allow the proliferation of damaging and deadly offshore fish factory farms.
PETA points out that these cramped, unsafe facilities promote the spread of parasites and disease and kill fish—who feel pain, as all animals do—in horrible ways, including by suffocating them or piercing their hearts. Fish factory farms also pollute surrounding waters with antibiotics and chemicals, allow viral infections and bacterial diseases to spread through the tidal currents to wild fish, and place other animals at risk of becoming entangled in fishing gear.
“The last thing our oceans need is more fish factory farms leaking pestilence, parasites, and pollutants into the water,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is asking the president to protect our oceans and everyone who lives in or near them by pulling the plug on this reckless order.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA and Andersen’s letter to Biden follows.
May 3, 2021
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
President of the United States
Dear Mr. President,
We are writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), its more than 6.5 million members and supporters, and millions of viewers disturbed by the revelations in the documentary Seaspiracy, to request that you revoke Executive Order 13921, which the Trump administration issued to support the proliferation of cruel and environmentally destructive offshore aquaculture facilities, limit environmental review of their development, and burden taxpayers with the cost of identifying locations in which corporations will be permitted to construct them.
These fish factory farms cause substantial suffering to the farmed fish, who are often subjected to cramped, unsafe conditions that facilitate the spread of parasitic infections and disease. They are typically fed an unnatural diet in order to keep feed costs low as well as dyes and unnatural supplements. As a result of these conditions, high mortality rates and stress-related injuries are common. When it is time to slaughter the surviving fish, there are no federal laws or regulations to ensure their humane treatment despite the fact that they can feel pain. Many traditional methods of slaughtering fish are horribly cruel. These include suffocating them, either in the air or on ice, which causes them to endure pain and terror for 10 minutes or more before finally dying; piercing their hearts or severing their gill arches without prior stunning; and killing them with carbon dioxide after first lowering the temperature of their water, which immobilizes them but may leave them fully conscious.
Fish farming also threatens wild fish and marine mammal populations and the health of our ocean ecosystem in myriad ways. When farmed fish escape from a facility (a common occurrence because of factors such as weather, predators, and equipment failures), many thousands of fish can be released into the ocean in a single incident. The fish may then compete with native wild fish for food and space, interbreed with them, and introduce new diseases. Even when the farmed fish remain confined, the intensive nature of that confinement raises the risk of transmission of deadly viral infections and bacterial diseases to wild populations—including endangered species— through the tidal currents.
Offshore fish farms also contribute pollutants to the ocean environment. Antibiotics are frequently used to prevent disease in farmed fish, and studies estimate that up to 99% of those administered are released into the environment. Overuse of antibiotics is known to increase the resistance of many bacteria. Excess metals and nutrients from fish feed supplements, dioxins in feed ingredients, excess nitrogen and phosphorous from feed, and antifoulants used to reduce the growth of marine organisms on structures can negatively affect sensitive marine habitats and human health.
The federal government has recognized that fish farms also pose a threat to marine mammals—including threatened and endangered animals. They present a risk of entanglement in fishing gear. They may displace some marine mammals from their foraging habitats, interfere with important areas needed by migratory species, and cause other behavioral disruptions. Farms may also attempt to deter marine mammals who are attracted to these stimuli in their environment by using methods such as pyrotechnics and fireworks, sirens, sling shots, electronically charged barriers, strobe lights, and striking, poking, and shooting them with “non-lethal” ammunition. Many of these deterrent tactics have significant environmental consequences in addition to their questionable efficacy at deterring predation of fish stocks. Some similar methods are used in an attempt to deter birds who naturally prey on the farmed species.
In issuing and implementing Executive Order 13921, the Trump administration made it clear that it was intended to reduce the burdens on commercial fishing operations, and it indisputably shifts the cost of planning for such operations to taxpayers and reduces regulatory review of proposed projects despite the extensive harm to fish and the marine environment. Your administration has already taken many actions to stay, suspend, or reverse Trump administration decisions that jeopardize wildlife and the environment. We commend you on those efforts and urge you also to revoke Executive Order 13921 to end this damaging policy in order to protect countless fish, other marine animals including birds, the sensitive marine environment, and potentially even human health from significant harm.
Very truly yours,
Ingrid Newkirk, President
Kip Andersen, Producer, Seaspiracy