April 1, 2014
The Pensacola Environmental Advisory Board will meet Wednesday to finalize its report on a controversial, multimillion-dollar sports fish hatchery proposed for the Pensacola bayfront.
The Florida Gulf Coast Marine Fisheries Hatchery and Enhancement Center would be constructed on city-owned property at Bruce Beach, using an estimated $18.8 million in fines arising from the BP oil spill.
The City Council authorized the mayor in 2011 to begin negotiating a lease for the facility, at the rate of $1 per year in January and asked the board to weigh the environmental aspects of the hatchery.
On Wednesday, the board will hear from William Patterson — a marine fisheries biologist and associate professor at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab — about the potential impacts of the project on Gulf Coast fisheries. Members also will attempt to finalize their report on the hatchery for delivery to the council later this month. Last week, board chairwoman Chasidy Hobbs presented a working paper summarizing the environmental merits and hazards of the project.
“There is no doubt that fisheries are declining on a global scale, including in the Pensacola Bay system,” she wrote. “However, there is little evidence that hatchery operations augment native fish populations, rather than replacing them. At best, more research is needed.”