Sarasota is in a water crisis. With more people moving here every year and increasing strains on stormwater and coastal developments our water quality has been declining. Most open net pen fish farms do not contribute positively to this adding parasites, disease, escaped fish, and nutrients to an already warm nutrient rich area with Red Tide issues. Most companies that do large scale monoculture fish farms and pollute their nearby waters which is why farming in the gulf has been restricted for recent history and is being banned elsewhere in the world. Yet we still need fish for food, we still need jobs, we have an import problem for seafood, and I would love to see Sarasota’s proud fishing history continue in a sustainable aquaculture project with Mote. So how do we reconcile these two opposed practices?
Agro-ecology, or basing farm systems off of existing ecosystems is the most environmentally friendly way to do it. By growing filter feeding fish, shellfish, macroalgaes, sponges, or other cleaning organisms alongside more expensive meat fishes we can clean up the water at the same time we farm. If we have a Red Tide problem due to warm waters and nutrients that algae love why not grow tasty algae to enjoy with our sushi? Imagine cleaning up the bay by farming a variety of sea foods and organisms some of which could be sold to the pet trade or aquariums another billion dollar industry. It is my view and that of my company Stocking Savvy that the project as it stands should not move forward as the first in the gulf. Rather we should expand it to a larger pilot program, incorporate more cleaning organisms with marketable value and show how innovative Sarasota can be. Kampachi Farms is an excellent company with experience raising these organisms but has not proposed doing that here. I’m sure we’d all love fresh seafood and a cleaner bay and we should work with Industry to make money and be ecological. Let’s show the world that green aquaculture and fiscal responsibility go hand in hand.
Written by Sean Patton Founder of Stocking Savvy
For more information check out: https://www.yourobserver.com/article/residents-weigh-in-on-proposed-fish-farm-off-sarasota-coast
Sean Patton is a wetland biologist and environmental consultant serving Sarasota and Manatee counties. He has written and defended an Honors Thesis at New College of Florida, and continues to do independent research to better understand Florida's ecosystems and provide the most specialized consultations possible. He has presented at the Environmental Summit and many other locations on his research; Multimodal Biological Control which is the selective stocking of native organisms to target and control nuisance organisms.