Bell Aquaculture near Muncie has begun operating a yellow perch farm that is projected to yield up to 100,000 pounds of fish per year.
At full capacity, the facility in Albany could produce 9 million pounds annually and employ 70 people. The first fish, which take about 10 months to reach market size, should be available to restaurants in the spring of 2009.
Not to be confused with white or rock perch, the yellow variety typically is available only a few months each year. Overfishing, loss of habitat and competition from invasive non-native species has reduced commercial catch to less than 20 percent of historic highs, the company said.
Nationwide, aquaculture production grew from $259 million in 1983 to $866 million in 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Census.