Our government has this to say: The permitting process includes “comprehensive safeguards to ensure healthy oceans and coasts and considers other uses of ocean space, such as fishing,” according to NOAA.
Wow, we all know that we can rest easy because of government promises.
Articles explaining the dangerous and bad past experiences in fish farming abound both in Europe and the U.S.
“Perfectly safe” fish farming practices have proven disastrous and threaten the species in Norway and the U.S. Northwest.
Almaco jack are abundant in the wild and never have been harvested commercially on large scale. In 2019, federal permit applications were filed to the United States Environmental Protection Agency and US Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a pilot study funded by Florida Sea Grant (using this species) 45 miles into the Gulf of Mexico southwest of Sarasota Florida. Florida Sea Grant hosted a public workshop in June 2019 to introduce the project to the public . The draft National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit application was posted for public comment by the EPA . The number of public comments received triggered a public hearing on January 28, 2020 at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota and ultimately generated 43,000 public comments. Wikipedia
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum
In reversal, Army Corps to accept public comment on fish farm off Sarasota coast
SARASOTA – After mounting pressure from environmentalists, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced this week that it will hold a public notice and comment period on a construction permit for the first finfish farm ever authorized in federal waters.
The Corps, which had previously not committed to accept public comment on the project, changed course after local community members expressed strong concerns with Hawaii-based Ocean Era’s offshore demonstration farm.
The project would raise 20,000 almaco jack, a species common in the Gulf, in an anchored chain-link mesh pen 45 miles southwest of Sarasota.
Separately, environmental groups will challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to authorize a permit to discharge fish waste into the Gulf of Mexico. Members of the Don’t Cage Our Ocean Coalition, including Friends of the Earth and the Recirculating Farms Coalition, will appeal the permit.
The project – dubbed Velella Epsilon – will need both the construction permit from the Corps and the EPA permit before it can proceed.
The EPA authorized a permit to discharge 80,000 pounds of fish waste into the Gulf of Mexico from the first finfish farm ever authorized in federal waters, a key hurdle in making American offshore aquaculture a reality.
The EPA’s assessment has indicated that there would be no significant environmental impacts associated with Ocean Era’s project. However, environmental groups were quick to criticize the EPA’s assessment.
They say offshore fish farms will create pollution in the form of fish waste, spread diseases to wild fish populations and increase competition with fishing companies that depend on wild catches.
Among the concerns about the permit: The EPA did not give a range of reasonable alternatives. The National Environmental Policy Act, which sets out requirements for environmental assessments or statements, is supposed to include reasonable alternatives.
This did not happen. The only alternatives were to issue or not to issue the permit.
The day the EPA issued the permit, residents and environmental activists testified online as part of two 90-minute public meetings. During the hearings, much of the concern also centered on this and future fish farms potentially exacerbating the harmful algal blooms such as red tide that have impacted the state’s coastal economy in recent years.
Among the other concerns: the potential vulnerability of the project if a major hurricane were to sweep through it in the Gulf.
The copper mesh cage to be used is impact-resistant and designed to survive storm events while submerged. The EPA believes that the cage design will make it unlikely that fish will escape.
Issues of structural integrity and anchoring of the cage system pertain to the Army Corps permit application. The structural permit authorization will include permit conditions to ensure the facility is being operated and maintained to mitigate environmental impacts during any disaster.
Comments regarding the potential authorization of the project should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer through the Tampa Permits Section, 10117 Princess Palm Ave., Suite 120, Tampa, FL 33610-8302 or preferably by email at OceanEra_VEAquaculture@usace.army.mil.
The deadline to comment is Nov. 4