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NOAA proposes sites for fish farms in the Gulf of Mexico

The EPA is revising the language for a fish farm permit near Venice, but there are other sites that could potentially turn into new fish farms in the Gulf of Mexico.

SARASOTA, Fla. — You have an opportunity to give feedback, encouraged by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), on whether companies can set up aquaculture projects along our coastline.

Last summer, the Hawaii-based company Ocean Era applied to set up a farm off of the coast near Venice. The company used spheres to raise fish in the open ocean which they claim leads to higher quality and more sustainable seafood.

However, some worry that fish farms will fuel red tide blooms.

“The fish farms will add nutrients to our water, so that could potentially impact the health of our waters,” Sarasota City Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch said.

Ahearn-Koch said she's concerned because the city is still restoring the bay from the 2018 red tide that had a $300 million impact on the economy.

“Harmful algal blooms are definitely a concern, that we're well aware of living along the central Gulf Coast, here in Florida," NOAA Fisheries spokesperson Andrew Richard said. "The programmatic impact statement will assess the potential impacts both adverse and beneficial aquaculture might have on water quality.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is revising the language for a permit for the project near Venice.

In the meantime, you can have a say about farms for fish, seaweed, algae or even shellfish from June 1 to August 1.

To learn more about attending a public meeting, either virtually or in person, visit this page on NOAA's website. It also has a meeting presentation with background information.