Largest fish farm in US planned off San Diego

Posted at 4:42 PM, Sep 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-11 19:42:45-04

Giant yellowtail fish in a pen at Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute are the parent fish that could spawn a massive change in where your fish comes from.

They plan to build the largest ocean fish farm in the United States, just a few miles off the coast of San Diego.

It would be about the size of the Qualcomm Stadium parking lot.

“We’re the first ones to try this,” said Donald Kent, president and CEO of Rose Canyon Fisheries, as he showed 10News thousands of fish in varying sizes in pools at the institute.

“They were caught locally so they are wild fish,” Kent said.

“We are importing over 90-percent of our seafood in this country and over half of that is farmed,” Kent said.

Kent said the U.S. imports most of its farmed fish from China.

“And there’s no reason why we shouldn’t farm it ourselves,” he said.

The plan is to put the fish farm four and a half miles out to sea, in an area stretching from Pacific Beach to Sunset Cliffs.

“It would provide up to 11-million pounds of fish a year,” Kent said.

They will grow species native to our waters: California yellowtail, white seabass and striped bass.

Megan Baehrens with San Diego Coastkeeper fears the massive fish farm could pollute the water, or spread disease to wild sea life.

“We’ve seen their plans for environmental protection and we think they fall very, very short of what’s necessary to protect our ocean,” Baehrens said.

 “It will have a non-measurable impact on the environment,” Kent said.

Kent said they are working on getting their permits to start building, and there will be public hearings where people can raise any concerns.

As for the timeline?

Since this has never been done before on this level, no one is sure how long the process will take.