Hatchery one step closer to reality

Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel Vinyard announced yesterday in Panama City that several Florida Panhandle counties are slated for about $90 million worth of early restoration projects to address areas impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil-spill.

A total of 28 projects are slated to benefit an eight county area in the Florida Panhandle that Governor Rick Scott designated as hugely affected by the oil spill. The biggest amount – $18 million – will go to Escambia County.

The money is for a hatchery that Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will be build and manage on land donated by the City of Pensacola on Bruce Beach. In 2011, when the Pensacola City Council approved the deal, they were told by the mayor that the job would create an estimated 80 jobs at the hatchery, through research, fish farming, commercial fishing and other related fishing industry feeder jobs.

Before any of that is finalized, the projects will go through a 60-day public comment period that runs through February 4: one in Pensacola on January 28 and another on January 29 in Panama City.