Amid Great Lakes shortage, perch are thriving at Green Bay's Farmory

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Published: Oct. 23, 2019 at 5:06 PM CDT
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The Great Lakes perch supply is plunging, and some restaurants are limiting sales of that Friday night fish fry staple. However, the Farmory in Green Bay is raising perch in hopes people won't have to search for a plate of deep fried fish.

After two years of research and development, perch are thriving inside The Farmory.

"Right now we're on the cusp of a major breakthrough for our business line which is producing yellow perch," says Claire Thompson, The Farmory executive director.

Overseeing The Farmory's commercial hatchery is University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Associate Researcher Ken Webb. By controlling water temperature and light, baby perch are produced year-round.

"The idea behind this operation and these four tanks is that we stagger seasons all year round so that any size fish you want, we'll have them available," says Webb.

In 2020, the hatchery plans to raise 400,000 young perch that will be sold to fish farmers with outdoor ponds or indoor facilities.

"The demand for yellow perch is so great right now that our 400,000 fingerlings, not even a drop in the bucket," says Webb.

The Farmory's goal is to serve as model for others to follow.

"Our goal is to actually get other people to set up other hatcheries, set up hatcheries yourself and feed your community," says Webb.

Thompson says, "I am very confident it's going to be a huge component of the future of aquaculture and being able to eat fish protein on this earth in the future."

And the more perch available, the less you'll pay for your Friday night fish fry.

"If we can make this a fish that once again you can get from Wisconsin, I think it's pretty clear that prices will go back down and it will be another one of those things that your church fish fry or your bar fish fry will once again become a practical gathering place again," Webb.