This ill-conceived project should be nipped in the bud because if approved it will open the door for a flood of further pollution and deterioration of the Gulf of Mexico, long the dumping ground of polluters supported by the EPA.
Note all the promises about monitoring; worthless promises developers and industry perennially make with straight faces. “Monitoring” is a term commissioners and board members grab onto when they want to help polluters but save face at the same time.
Fish farms have a history of accidents, pollution and other negative results. Like mining, things never actually proceed as planned, and the environment suffers.
Read the original article here in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum
Venice City Council approves letter urging more study of Ocean Era aquaculture permit
Sarasota Herald-Tribune May 16, 2021
VENICE – The Venice City Council approved drafting a letter asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to rescind its permit for the Ocean Era aquaculture demonstration project Tuesday, but not before listening to Ocean Era project manager Dennis Peters clarify details about the project.
The permit for the waste discharge system was put on hold on March 24 by the EPA environmental appeals board.
Peters, executive director of Gulfstream Aquaculture, pointed out that the stay – set to expire June 1 – is part of an overall review of permits issued by the Trump administration that was undertaken by the Biden administration involving several agencies.
Peters also stressed that the demonstration project, which would be located off of south Sarasota County between Venice and Englewood, is temporary and it would be used to gather data for a potential permanent site elsewhere.
“It is not the location where a commercial farm would be but is ideal for a demonstration project,” said Peters, who appeared at the meeting via Zoom.
Peters, who has worked with Ocean Era for 3½ years, noted that there will be constant monitoring on the 12-month small-scale project.
The city’s environmental advisory board zeroed in on the concern that the net pen would be off shore where red tide has been known to form.
“Not insignificant, there is a very serious concern about red tide,” said Dr. George Davis, the advisory board representative who presented the letter to the commission.
Peters, who also emailed the City Council a study of the nutrient impact of an offshore aquaculture facility in the Caribbean, stressed that scientists are cognizant of the concern and expect the any increase in levels of nutrients produced by the project that could feed algae blooms will be below detectible levels.
Monitoring is scheduled to be conducted for three months prior to the 12-month period, during the entire operation and for two to three months after that.
“We’re going to perform even more monitoring than what was requested,” Peters said. “We believe in science-based data to make our decisions.”
In addition to working with Mote on water monitoring, Ocean Era has also been working with Mote Marine & Aquarium’s aquaculture park.
Fish used in the demonstration project, longfin yellowtail, also known as Almaco jack, will be the offspring of fish caught locally off of Sarasota and Madeira Beach in Pinellas County and raised at Mote Aquaculture Park in Sarasota.
That means the fish will not impact the genetic diversity of the area, “because it’ is the stock that’s there,” Peters said.
Ocean Era wants to raise about 20,000 pounds of Alamco jack, in the net pen that would produce about 80,000 pounds of waste.
The net pen would be 17 meters in diameter and 7 meters deep, and located 40 meters below the surface.
It would be anchored to the bottom and tended by a feed barge that would be tethered to the side of the net pen. The fish would grow to market size within 12 months.
While it is seeking permits for a demonstration project, another company, New York-based Manna Fish Farms, is seeking approval of an operational aquaculture project that would be 23 miles south of Pensacola.
The council did not directly approve the letter authored by the city advisory board. Instead, it asked City Attorney Kelly Fernandez to write a letter encouraging the EPA to rescind its permit to allow for further study the environmental impact of Ocean Era’s project.
The board specifically did not oppose the aquaculture project. Vice Mayor Rich Cautero noted that the issue had become a political football.
Previously council members had declined to take a position on the Ocean Era project on the advice of its lobbyist, because they were concerned of how it might impact funding of other federal projects, notably beach renourishment.