Budget conference: Sturgeon farm makes Senate sprinkle list

Beluga Sturgeon
It's the only sturgeon aquafarm in the U.S.

Sturgeon Aquafarms could be in store for $1.4 million in state funding.

The funding would be used to restore the Jackson County-based sturgeon farm, which has been struggling since Hurricane Michael tore through Northwest Florida a year and a half ago.

The Bascom operation is unique in that it’s the only aquafarm in the U.S. to be licensed and authorized by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to grow, harvest, and export beluga sturgeon.

For the uninitiated, beluga sturgeon are native to the Caspian and Black seas and are the source of beluga caviar — the most prized variety of fish roe.

The original request, filed by Sen. George Gainer, would have sent $1.8 million to the operation, which it would use for “partial replenishment of inventory of fish and broodstock” as well as repairing and replacing “aquafarm infrastructure demolished due to severe damages from Hurricane Michael.”

The money would be split, with about 60% heading to operations and the balance being used for capital outlay projects.

The state funding is set for a 50% match, which would have given the restoration project a total of nearly $2.7 million in funding under the original appropriations request.

Gainer’s request also would have directed $1 million in recurring funds to the farm, though that didn’t make the cut in the “sprinkle list” posted by the Senate on Saturday.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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