Frozen Fish

Friday, January 14, 2011 - 2:16pm

Tropical fish farms are in peril due to the recent cold snap.

Tropical fish farmers are also worried about the impact of the cold weather. 80% of the tropical fish produced in the United States are grown in the Bay Area. Farmers say the cold weather is having a devastating impact on their industry.

Craig Watson is the director of the University of Florida Aquaculture Lab in Ruskin. This area is where a majority of the tropical fish produced in the United States comes from.

Fish like these Nemo and Dori look-a-likes are raised in ponds like this. But Watson says when water temps drop below 55 degrees, the fish can't survive.

Craig says “below that, we start seeing massive losses and we're below 50 degrees farenheit in our uncovered ponds today.”

Fish farmers can cover their ponds but in very cold weather even that's not enough to save the crop. Watson says the last 13 months have seen several prolonged cold snaps with long lasting impacts to fish farms.

Craig says “One of the concerns is, with the economy slowing down the farmers were already struggling in the market place and this is going to hurt them.”

Art Rawlins runs Rawlins Tropical Fish and is the president of the Tropical Fish Association.

Art says “we were right at the verge of beginning to get back into the black in December of this year and now we have another light freeze, it took out another 60 to 70 percent of the product.”

Rawlins says at one time tropical were the largest single commodity flying out of Tampa International Airport. But he says that is no longer true with increasing competition from Asia Rawlins worries this freeze may further shrink his market.

Art says “once a person starts buying from another source, it's very difficult to get them back.”

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