Fish farm off Siesta Key coast put to a halt

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The Environmental Appeals Board has ruled that a first-ever industrial aquaculture facility – known as a fish farm – that was targeted to be established 45 miles off the Siesta Key shoreline has had its previously granted permit denied until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can clarify that the facility will not cause harm to aquatic ecosystems and species in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Center for Food Safety and other agencies asked for the appeal against the facility, called Velella Epsilon. In the ruling, the facility’s operation was said to violate the Clean Water Act.

Jean Cannon isn’t against the fish-farm concept but was concerned about the nature of this large-scale facility and its location.

“Mote (Marine) had a fish farm near Myakka State Park and it performed very well. I’d like to see this type of fish farming continue,” said Cannon, a Siesta Key Association member with a history of local environmental stewardship, including the creation of a canal regeneration project. “In my opinion, the fish farm operation will add a concentration for food and waste to our Gulf waters — a negative discharge — that could add to our red tide problem.

“Also, the operation is remotely monitored. If there is problem, it will be too late to react and this could have a negative impact on our marine life, water, beaches, etc., putting more negative impacts and pressure on the health of people, local marine life, and commercial fishing operations.

“The fish farm operation needs to be worked out before it comes to the Gulf of Mexico.”

— John Morton

John Morton
Author: John Morton

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