By Tim LeightonAlaska Fish, the state’s largest source of organic fertilizer in the country, says its fish stocks have been on the decline for decades and that it’s not going to take a new influx of fish to reverse that trend.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service is weighing whether to ban Alaskan fish fertilizer as a result of the increasing use of synthetic fertilizers.
Alaska’s fish, which feed on plankton in the ocean and feed the rest of the state, has been losing more than 70% of its fish stock since the 1970s.
In recent years, fish farmers have turned to more natural, non-toxic, fertilizers that can be more easily transported and used to increase the fish’s supply of nutrients and other products, according to Alaskans for Food and Water, a group that advocates for sustainable fishing.
“If we don’t make fish more resilient to these synthetic fertilizer choices, it’s going to be a problem for the fish, it’ll be a challenge for the salmon, and it’s a challenge to the fishery,” said Jeff Friesen, a spokesman for the Alaskanas Fish and Game Commission.
Fish farm owners say they are not worried about the possible regulatory implications of a ban on Alaskin fish fertilizer.
“We have a lot of natural resources in Alaska that are in such great condition and they need to remain there for years,” said David Linn, owner of Alaskas Fishing Company, a business that supplies fish farms with fish fertilizer from across the state.
“I just hope they don’t put us in the position of having to take it or not taking it.”
The fish fertilizer debate also has implications for farmers who buy fish from other states.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has ruled that fish fertilizers must be labeled with a name and the amount of fish it contains.FTC rules also require producers of fish fertilizer to give farmers an option to stop using it if they choose not to, or to remove it from their fish farm.
The FDA says that it doesn’t yet have a decision on whether to impose a ban.
In an interview with The Associated Press, the FDA said it doesn�t anticipate such a ban would be imposed.
The agency also said that it will continue to monitor the health of fish farms and the public’s understanding of the health risks of synthetic fish fertilizer.FDA officials have said that they have not yet determined whether the EPA�s proposed regulations would apply to Alaska Fish and Food, but they have said they are aware of several cases in which fish farms have been exposed to fishborne pathogens.
Federal regulators are also looking at a similar issue in Montana, where the EPA has issued an order that requires fish farmers to get a permit to use fish fertilizer in certain cases.
But regulators are taking a cautious approach to the new regulations because they have been watching Alaska Fish and Fish Commission for several years.
In February, they issued a public comment letter to the commission, saying they want to hear from the public and from people in other states who have similar concerns about the potential for fish fertilizer contamination.
Federal officials say they don�t know what the impact of the new rules will be, but that they will evaluate them as a whole and determine if they will apply to other fish farms in the future.