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Bill Easing Fish Farm Regulations Could Be Signed Into Law This Month

Supporters Say Bill Will Help Growing Aquaculture Industry, While Opponents Say It May Harm Natural Waters

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A controversial bill loosening regulations for fish farms in Wisconsin could be signed into law this month, according to its author. While supporters say the bill will boost the growing aquaculture industry, opponents call it a giveaway that could hurt the state’s waters.

State Sen. Tom Tiffany, who authored the bill, is hopeful Gov. Scott Walker will sign the aquaculture bill in his district by the end of June.

The bill makes it easier for fish farms to fill wetlands and expands the list of natural water bodies that can be diverted. Tiffany said current regulations are holding the state’s aquaculture industry back and his bill will ease expensive and burdensome regulations for a growing industry and not harm the environment.

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“There is no reason that we don’t have a more robust, growing aquaculture industry, it’s pretty stagnant at this point, and we think it could really be growing to the benefit of all of us,” Tiffany said.

Midwest Environmental Advocates attorney Sarah Geers said they’re worried about fish farms working under rules developed for livestock.

“Now that the Legislature is going to be applying some of the agricultural exemptions and regulations to aquaculture, we’re concerned that those existing regulatory standards aren’t tailored for this very different industry,” Geers said.

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