See, somebody wants the fish farm. Because somebody somewhere is getting paid because of the fish farm. It’s probably not needed and it is obviously a waste of taxpayer money, but somebody definitely wants this fish farm. Just to be clear.
If someone offered you a chance to invest millions of dollars in a business nobody wants, would you take it?
If you’re the U.S. government, the answer is a resounding yes. Since 2007, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—despite major political, social, and environmental headwinds—has poured almost $100 million (PDF) into aquaculture, also known by the more pedestrian moniker of fish farming.
Currently, American aquaculture is done only in state waters within a few miles of the coast. (Think farmed salmon.) But the government is trying to go further out to sea, into federal waters, to create an offshore aquaculture industry. After NOAA, under both presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush tried—and failed—to push national aquaculture legislation through Congress, NOAA decided to do an end run around Capitol Hill, creating a controversial aquaculture permitting system in the Gulf of Mexico that promptly drew litigation as well as the ire of fishermen, boaters, and environmentalists.
A so what if Congress said no? NOAA, part of the executive branch, will just do it anyway. The Constitution? Not so important.
For the record, as a lover of fish (I wanted to be an ichthyologist as a little boy) and the ocean, I don’t think fish farming is such a terrible idea generally. This particular idea reeks of federal boneheadedness and boondogglery however. Kinda fishy.