Assembly Bill 160 allows people who work on fish farming industry, also known as aquaculture, to dig, dredge and conduct repair work on their ponds and holding areas for water without a general permit or individual permit issued by the Department of Natural Resources.
Those in favor of the legislation argue it will boost Wisconsin's fish industry, which they say has declined in recent years due to burdensome regulations
"By aligning state water quality standards with federal law, we will ensure that Wisconsin fish farmers are not at a competitive disadvantage to neighboring states," said Rep. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) in a statement on the bill in March.
Opponents of the bill raised concerns over the state's water quality.
"When fish farms are exempted from rules that protect our water quality, there are long-term costs and consequences that will be passed on to the public," said Stacy Harbaugh, spokesperson for Midwest Environmental Advocates.