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Escambia residents voice their opinion on the proposed fish hatchery

People had a chance tonight to voice their opinions and concerns on how BP money will be used.
There's a total of eleven proposed projects for Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa Counties.
The total cost for those projects is about 50-million dollars.
One project in Escambia County is causing quite a stir.

Channel Three's Jenise Fernandez explains,

The proposed fish hatchery has been controversial from the beginning.
On one side, are people who believe this hatchery is needed to improve fish population
But others think this is not the way to do it.

It was standing room only inside the Pensacola Bay Center.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill trustees briefly explained the proposed projects before turning the mic over to the public.
It took about two hours to get through all the public comments, with most people talking about the fish hatchery.

"It would be positive for us locally in recovering local fish like red snapper, grouper."

Earl Rader supports the fish hatchery.
He's a fisherman, and has seen firsthand the effects of the oil spill.
He says fish the population has depleted, and something needs to be done.

"We're concerned about the damage to local fish, reefs. We're very interested in recovering back to where we were before."

The fish hatchery is the most expensive project proposed for Escambia County, costing  about 18-million dollars.
Iris Knoebl is against the hatchery. She says the way to improve fish population is by improving the water quality and planting more sea grass.

"Once we have that established fish will naturally come to our waters and spawn. the naturally occurring fish will come back."

The plan right now is to build the hatchery on Bruce Beach.
It's main function will be to breed and release fish into the water.
Those against it are afraid that plan won't work.

"My main concern is that our area waters are too degraded... hatchery raised fish."

People did touch on some other proposed projects most were positive comments, with the hatchery being the hot topic tonight.
One of the trustees told us, they're hoping to draft a final proposal, and get projects underway by the summer.
Jenise Fernandez, Channel Three News.