An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Sarasota County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Wild vs. Farmed: Intense debate surrounds proposed offshore fish farm off coast of Sarasota

Ocean Era project Velella Epsilon continues to meet resistance

SARASOTA COUNTY – Fresh seafood is a critical healthy protein for humans — but where we get our fish is the subject of intense debate. A proposed one-year pilot project to build pens off the coast of Sarasota is drawing criticism and praise.

The project, called Velella Epsilon, was first proposed by Ocean Era in 2017. Acquiring all of the proper permits and legal challenges continues to cause delays.

In June 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved permits for the facility in federal waters 45 miles southwest of Sarasota in 130 feet deep waters.


At a recent rally in Venice, environmental groups, commercial fishermen and concerned citizens held a protest against the project.

"We've been in opposition since day one when it comes to this industrialization of our oceans," Casey Streeter said.

Streeter is a commercial fisherman operating out of Matlacha. He lost everything when Hurricane Ian decimated coastal Lee County. He believes the fish farm threatens his livelihood and the entire fishing industry.