Deadline extended to fight fish farm permit

Editor & Publisher

A controversial fish farm that has area municipalities, residents and environmentalists concerned, has had the public comment period regarding the issued permit extended until Nov. 19.

The reason for the extension, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is the email where comments were supposed to be received, veaquaculture@usace.army.mil was not working. The Army suggests commenters resend their emails and if the email is successfully received a confirmation receipt will be sent back.

The Federal Regulations require a 30-day comment period, and since the faulty email inbox truncated that time frame, there is the extension.

At issue is the Army Corps.permit that Ocean Era is seeking to build a fish farm about 45 miles southwest of Longboat Pass. The farm would consist of a metal net pen placed 130 feet deep in the Gulf of Mexico.

Numerous organizations have protested and already appealed the permit that has already been issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, citing issues with the potential danger of wastewater from the facility and the possible contribution to red tide and other algal blooms.

The aquaculture facility would discharge excess fish feed and fish feces into the Gulf.

The company would rely on about 20,000 almaco jack fingerling fish to be raised in the facility. These fish would be provided by Mote Marine Laboratory.

One of the goals of the project is to collect data on such a fish farm environment, to be used in commercial-scale operations.

Some opponents have suggested that a hurricane could destroy the facility and release the almaco jack into the Gulf and cause undesirable breeding.

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