Monday, May 22, 2006

Fish farm forced to close?

David DeKok

One of the larger and more successful commercial fish farms in the northeastern U.S. might be forced to shut down its operations on the Susquehanna River.

PPL Corp. needs to build cooling towers for its power plant at Brunner Island, where Susquehanna Aquaculture also is located. The fish farm thrives because it gets free hot water from PPL. So if the company must move, it cannot remain profitable.

The owner of the fish farm, which sold 400,000 pounds of live striped bass last year to fish markets in the U.S. and Canada, hopes the business can relocate elsewhere on Brunner Island, which is below York Haven and between York and Lancaster counties. But PPL is pessimistic that there is enough space to accommodate both the fish farm and everything else it plans to build on the small island in the next 10 years.

"We don't want to provide any false optimism," said PPL spokesman George Lewis. "We know he wants to stay, but it becomes an issue of not having enough space for everything."

The fish farm opened in May 1989, taking over and expanding a research project PPL had started. Susquehanna Aquaculture uses free hot water discharged from the Brunner Island plant as it makes electricity. The water keeps the stripers warm in their pens year around. By also giving the fish oxygen-rich water and plenty of good feed, the fish grow to full size in a year rather than three years.

It is the only striped bass farm in the Northeast.

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Being able to use a heat resource to grow fresh fish at near optinum conditions puts an other wise waste resource to benefical use. I sure hope that they can find a solution and keep growing those stripers. I have eaten their product while visiting Toronto. Very good eating!

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