World's "largest" yellow perch farm begins production
17 April, 2008 -
BELL Aquaculture has begun operation of what it says is the nation's largest yellow perch (Perca flavescens) farm at production facilities located in Albany, Indiana, northeast of Indianapolis, according to President and COO Michael Miller. The yellow perch product is expected to be supplying the restaurant trade by spring 2009. After that, says the company, it will focus on consumer purchase. Bell Aquaculture's yellow perch and aquaculture expert, Bill Manci is the company's chief technology officer, as well as president of FTA, Inc., a company he created in 1982 after receiving his formal training in zoology and fisheries science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and after a six-year career in aquaculture research. Manci has been a consultant since 1980 and has worked on many types of aquaculture and fish farming projects throughout the U.S.A. and other countries. "The greatest difficulty for restaurants has been the availability of yellow perch out of Lake Michigan and Lake Erie - the two predominant lakes for the supply of wild-caught yellow perch," explains COO, Mr Miller, "which means the restaurants that were typically serving customers who enjoy the taste of yellow perch, just cannot get the supply."
He added: "The yellow perch that we're raising is a higher quality product from the standpoint that there is no real possibility of contaminants entering into their food chain during their growth. "We have absolute control over our water supply, and since they are raised in-house, there is no opportunity for bird predation, pesticides or herbicides to get into the flesh of the fish." Bell Aquaculture's Albany facility currently has the production capacity of less than 100,000 pounds of fish per year and ultimately will exceed none million pounds per year. According to Mr Miller, the company will employ 70 in Albany at full build-out of the new facilities. Yellow perch is one of the most popular of all North American pan fish. It has a mild, sweet flavor with firm white flesh and low fat levels, making it a favorite in residential and commercial kitchens alike. In years past, yellow perch was the fish typically served at Friday night fish fries in the Great Lakes region.
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