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Florida Farm Fish Freezing to Death

CANADA - Continuous freezing weather is effected fish farms in British Columbia, according to Lois Kindle from the Brandon News and Tribune.

Sidney Liles has lost crops before. It's part of tropical fish farming, he says. But as the 70-year-old surveyed the casualties of 10 consecutive days of freezing weather, he could only shake his head. "This is the worst it's ever been, and I've been in the business since 1966," he said. "Normally, we have [freezing temperatures] no more than three days. This has hurt tropical fish farmers as far south as Homestead. "I can't say for sure yet, but I'd guess about 80 per cent of my fish are dead."

That translates into $400,000 in lost fish, said Mr Liles, who farms more than 200 ponds with 35 different varieties of tropical fish. Ideally, water temperatures should be 70 to 72 degrees and never below 62 (~17°C)," he said. "It don't help to cry," he continued. "All you can do is the best you can with what you got left."

"We're all pretty much in the same boat," Jeff Carter of Carter's Fish Hatchery in Wimauma told Brandon New and Tribune.

"It's the life of a farmer. I've been in the business for 30 years, and I've never seen anything like this," he continued. "We've run the wells and covered the ponds. There's not much more we can do." Mr Carter estimates he has lost between 70 and 80 per cent of the fish in his 157 ponds. "By this weekend, I don't know if we'll have any fish left to sell," he said. In mid-March, when the weather warms up, Mr Liles, his daughters and a work crew will have to rebuild pretty much from scratch, Mr Liles said.

"We'll have to pump the water out of all the pools and recondition them before we can restock them with breeding pairs," said daughter Teresa Wood. "And then they have to breed." "From now, it'll be six months before we'll have a new crop," added her sister, Amy Durden. "We hope the government works as quickly for the fish industry as it did to save the banks and the car companies."

Although the amount of money Mr Liles hopes to recover from Uncle Sam's Disaster Assistance Relief Programme is miniscule compared to the family's losses, anything helps, Ms Durden said. And that process takes six to eight months, she added. "You have to lose at least 50 percent of your crop, and then you get back a small percentage of your loss. But we're grateful for that," she said. "Relief can't come soon enough," Ms Wood said.

Meanwhile, the bottom of the ponds at Liles Tropical Fish Farm are covered with thousands of dead fish. Those that died several days earlier now float on the surface. "It's really hard to talk about," Mr Liles said.

the Fish Site Editor

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