Fish farmers from northern New York are rounding up support for a new law that would lift a ban on the sale of farm-raised black bass in New York.
The proposed bill would lift the state Department of Environmental Conservation ban on the sale of farm-raised black bass to fish markets, retailers and restaurants.
Dean Norton is president of the New York Farm Bureau. He contends that passing the legislation will result in job creation for rural areas throughout the North Country.
Norton also foresees increased profitability for fish farmers.
“We need economic growth in upstate New York right now and closing off the food fish market for New York fish growers is just another example of the many regulations that continue to restrict upstate development when we need it the most,” he said.
According to Norton, fish farmers in New York may only raise black bass for stocking waterways – not for food. He notes the sale of black bass for food is permitted in several neighboring states.
The legislation being discussed in Albany would permit growers in New York to take advantage of what Norton calls a nearly inexhaustible market.
He says the bill would also promote eating local.
Ted Universal is president of the New York Aquaculture Association. He’s also owner of Coolwater Fish Farm in Geneseo.
“If every fish grower in New York cultured exclusively black bass for food fish, we still wouldn’t be able to meet all the state’s demand since New York City is such a huge market,” Universal said. “This provides tremendous opportunity for our farmers.”
Norton says many fish farms are being forced into closure due to the costs of some DEC mandates. He notes those farmers are already operating on a slim profit margin.
“By allowing another market option for fish farmers, the health and growth of the aquaculture industry is encouraged and the health of other industries important to the economic well-being of the state are protected,” Norton said.