SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A company from Hawaii is pushing to open a fish farm about 45 miles off the coast of Sarasota and that brought out protesters and supporters Tuesday night to a hearing at Mote Marine Lab.
“We couldn’t be more opposed to this if we tried," said Cris Costello, Organizing Manager for the Sierra Club. "If we are as a state dedicated to stopping nutrient pollution at its source from the land so it doesn’t get in the water, why in the world would we be creating nutrient pollution, fueling red tide blooms, it just doesn’t make sense.”
Those who agree with Costello, including many environmental groups, protested ahead of Tuesday night’s Environmental Protection Agency public hearing.
The plan is to build a mesh, chain-link pen to raise 20,000 marine fish that would be used for people to eat.
Kevan Main, an aquaculture expert with Mote, was here representing herself. She tells us that she sees a lot of positives from this proposed fish farm.
“We have a real challenge. We have over 90 percent of our seafood that’s currently imported and over half of that is farmed," said Main. "And so what we need to be doing is looking at opportunities to sustainably produce the protein that we need in this country and in Florida.”
This would be the first fish farm in the Gulf of Mexico. If permitting goes as planned, the fish farm could be in place by the end of this year.
The meeting Tuesday night was just for public input. The EPA will take more public input over the next week.
It’s not yet known when a decision will be made.