Sarasota opposes Mote Marine fish farm plan

Editor & Publisher

A plan to develop a commercial fish farm off Sarasota’s coast that would be stocked by Mote Marine has been met with objection by the City of Sarasota. 

Last week, the City Commission unanimously voted in support of a letter of opposition to the project that is being proposed by Hawaii-based Kampachi Farms.

The proposal is to create a net-pen that would hold upwards of 20,000 Karp that would be stocked by Mote Marine Laboratory. The fish would be fed pellets that contain both phosphates and antibiotics and the fish feces would simply wash freely out of the pen into the Gulf of Mexico.

To date, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not found the proposal to be an environmental threat, but the City Commissioners fear the precedent.

In a commission meeting last week concerns about how red tide algae feeds off of phosphorous as well as fecal waste was raised as a primary concern.

Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch spoke of the nearly $100,000 million cost of the 2018 red tide to the Sarasota County economy. Her main point was that any activity that could exacerbate red tide should not be supported.

The President of the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations agreed that it is the last place that this type of commercial fish farming should exist.

The EPA issued a Feb. 4 deadline for public comments that would be considered in the record. The public comment period is one of the final stages in the operation’s quest for an EPA permit. The proposal will also need to be approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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