GREEN BAY, Wis (WBAY) - Work is underway to create the first full-scale, year-round commercial fish hatchery in Wisconsin.
The partnership between UW-Green Bay and The Farmory will mean local perch at your Friday Night fish fry.
Over the next few months, the exterior of The Farmory in Green Bay will undergo a major transformation.
Inside, it's already happening.
"What we're trying to do is use some very cutting edge techniques that have been developed for marine fish -- self-cleaning systems, automated systems, self-monitoring systems -- to turn yellow perch into a commercial product," says Ken Webb, UWGB Associate Researcher.
Known as the "Fish Guy," Webb says while the yellow perch population in Lake Michigan has plummeted, the fish remain in high demand.
"And right now that demand is being almost exclusively filled by imports from Canada," says Webb, "and the reason a lot of times when you go out to a Friday nigh fish fry you're not necessarily getting yellow perch on your plate, you might be getting something closely related or not necessarily related at all."
For The Farmory, which formed three years ago as a non-profit with a mission to encourage, educate and inspire indoor farmers, the fish hatchery is in phase two of the expansion.
"We're going through tremendous growth and tremendous building of our own intellectual capabilities to be able to further the mission of our organization to improve the livelihoods and self-sufficiency of folks right here in the Greater Green Bay area," says Claire Thompson, The Farmory Executive Director.
With the first brood stock of perch now on site, the hatchery hopes to be up and running over the winter and raise 100,000 perch next year.
"Our goal is to teach people, show them what we're doing, show them how it's done and basically seed the industry with fingerlings and with educated, willing people who now know exactly what it takes to go out and produce yellow perch fingerlings," says Webb.
The Farmory's goal for 2020 is to raise 500,000 young perch.