Giant Fish Farm Planned Off Mission Beach - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Giant Fish Farm Planned Off Mission Beach

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Have you ever thought about where the seafood or sushi you eat comes from? In the next few years, much of what we eat here in San Diego could come from right off our shores. Right now, 80 percent of the seafood we eat is imported, and about half of the fish you order at restaurants is raised in fish farms. But there's a plan hatching right now here in San Diego to create a fish farm off our own coast.

"We'll be able to be working with the fishing community to train fishermen to become farmers and produce fish for our markets here in Southern California and provide a healthy new supply of seafood we don't have right now," Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute President and CEO Don Kent said.

Kent has been working for decades to make this dream a reality.

"I've been personally involved in aquaculture research for about 30 years," he said.

The research and experimentation begins with adult fish that then spawn to create a new batch of fish to be raised and then ultimately placed offshore, where they'll mature before heading to market.

"It's pretty exciting to see millions of eggs turning into hundreds of thousands of juvenile fish, and then realizing that this can be the beginning of a new industry," Kent said.

The fish farm would sit five miles west of Mission Bay. The cages would float at the top, covering an area of about three football fields, but once anchored to the bottom of the ocean floor 300 feet down, would encompass a total area of about 30 football fields.

"That ensures that our fish are always getting clean sea water around them, keeping them healthy and ready to be harvested," Kent explained.

The cages will be marked on nautical charts, and also with radar reflectors and light. A vessel will be moored at the site seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Kent says it will prevent further depletion of the ocean's fish supply, while lowering the carbon footprint of where our seafood comes from.

"If we can grow it five miles out to sea instead of buying it from across the other side of the earth then that's beneficial as well," Kent said.

"It's estimated the value of product we bring in is $20 million a year, which would be an $80 million stimulus to the local economy, when you look at all the jobs that would get generated from it," Kent said.

The parent company of SeaWorld, Bush Entertainment Corporation, donates over $500,000 a year to the Hubbs-SeaWorld Institute for research on projects like this.

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