SARASOTA-  Ocean Era’s Pilot Fish farming project in the Gulf was approved by the EPA. Ocean Era says the pilot project is designed to educated about aqua culture opportunities.

“This is just a single net pin with one batch of fish,” Sims said. “So it’s more of a demonstration to be able to help the Florida Fish and Boating community understand that off shore aquaculture is just more fish in the water.”

CEO Neil Sims says expanding the project could help provide more control over the seafood we eat.

“Over 90% of the Seafood Americans eat is imported, and a lot of that is farmed,” Sims said. “And we have no control over environmental standards, or food safety standards, or labor and social standards.”

Suncoast Waterkeeper and other environmental groups have protested off-shore fish farming.

“Disappointed that the EPA would claim that there is going to be no harmful impacts,” Tyrna said. “And we’re worried about those harmful impacts, that we believe are going to be a consequence of this pilot project.”

 Executive Director Abbey Tyrna says the permit does not require extensive monitoring of the area.

“Fish waste is full of ammonia which is a fuel for red tide,” Tyrna said. “So how is that going to impact red tide, and what about antibiotics used in these fishes, how is that going to get out into the wider ocean, and impact other species.”

Ocean Era says the plan to work with Mote Marine Labs and University of Miami on monitoring the project.

“We’ll be have them do the water quality monitoring,” Sims said. “And the sea floor underneath the net pen, so there will be extensive monitoring of that, and we’ll make that information publically available.”

They also want people to come out and see the project for themselves. Ocean Era says it will take about 6 months to start getting the project in the water.

Suncoast WaterKeeper says their board is meeting tomorrow to determine any next steps they want to take.