Fish Farm Bill Raises Concerns Among Environmental Groups

Measure Would Allow Farmers To Do Some Dredging Around Wetlands Without Prior State Approval

By Glen Moberg, Wisconsin Public Radio

A Republican bill designed to help fish farming is raising red flags with environmental groups, including the River Alliance of Wisconsin.
Sen. Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst said the bill cuts red tape for Wisconsin's aquaculture industry by allowing fish farmers to do some dredging around wetlands without prior approval by the Department of Natural Resources. Tiffany said there are safeguards.
"We're going to use the federal standard (and) follow the Clean Water Act recommendation that the EPA has made in regards to aquaculture. I think it's a good, commonsense reform," he said.
But some Democrats, including Assistant Assembly Minority Leader Katrina Shankland of Stevens Point, aren't convinced.
"I don't see a need to exempt any industry from water quality regulations that everyone else has to comply with. I think at the end of the day, every Wisconsinite recognizes the value of our clean water," said Shankland.
Tiffany said some fish farmers have had to wait seven to 13 years for permits.