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San Diego research institute growing White Seabass population off California coast

The fish begin in Carlsbad before making a trek to Catalina to grow. Once they reach the right size the fish are brought back as a part of the replenishment program.

OCEANSIDE, Calif. — Commercial tuna boat Millie G recently docked in Oceanside with nearly 7,000 juvenile White Seabass that were raised at HUBBS SeaWorld Research Institute. From Oceanside, the fish will make the voyage to Catalina.

Director of Replenishment Operations at Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute, Michael Shane told CBS 8, "These fish are going to grow at Catalina, we have pens over there that we operate. At Catalina they get larger in size, they'll get released in November, they'll be 14" - 16."

To get the White Seabass to this point takes a lot of work at the hatchery in Carlsbad where fertilized eggs are collected from the brood stock. "So, they went from our incubator system into our juvenile system and then they come into here where they grow to be 3" to 4" before we take them out to the grow pens," said Shane.

Michael Shane says there are two main reason the replenishment program is in place. "That has been the impetus of this program to replenish stock we have over fished or have lost valuable habitat," said Shane.

Covering the cost of the program are those benefiting the most. He said that legislation went into effect in the 80’s that has fishermen in Southern California pay an additional license that supports the program.

Those dollars go to the Department of Fish and Wildlife who contract Hubbs SeaWorld. To keep the program healthy, new adult White Seabass will make the return trip. "After spending a couple of months in quarantine they will be brought inside to provide a fresh gene pool to the tanks here," said Shane.

Then the process can start all over again. The Juvenile White Seabass will spend 6 - 8 months in Catalina before they double in size and then are released to replenish the stock.

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