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Milwaukee - A National Leader for Aquaculture?

US - Jon Bales has worn lots of hats in his life, from Navy flight instructor to coffee plantation owner, but now Bales thoughts are pretty much caught up in fish.

Speaking on WUWM Radio, he said that he'd like to make Milwaukee a national leader in growing fish by creating a large-scale production facility to grow 100 tons of yellow perch.

"This is a species which has kind of been in decline in the Great Lakes. We’d like to bring it back and satisfy the market for it and at the same time have an educational component so we can show the rest of the country on how they too can grow fish in the city,” Bales says.

A visit to Growing Power, a Milwaukee nonprofit organistion that develops community gardens, demonstrates how the groups constructs systems of tubs and trenches, circulating water that feeds fast-growing fish.

Leon Todd, Bale’s business partner says the project will incorporate the same ideas Growing Power developed to make raceways and treat the nitrates or the waste products from the fish in a natural way.

But Bales is quick to point out that he won’t be producing “farm-raised” fish.

“We’re mimicking nature indoors. We’re not going to be polluting our natural waterways with mites or parasites that are from caged fish. These are going to be happy fish. They’re going to grow many times faster indoors instead of outdoors because we don’t have the cold winter when they stop growing. We’re confident that we can grow them from fingerling to plate-size fish in a year’s time,” he explained.

Bales used to own a fish farm in Costa Rica.

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