Friday, September 14, 2012

Something Fishy Happening in Southwest Virginia

Rolling hills backdropped by beautiful mountains that give a blue light during sunset.  Tumbling pastures where cows graze and horses frolic.  Sounds like the perfect place to find Florida's number one selling fish, at least one it's most highly sought after, right?  Well maybe not to you, but the good people at Virginia Cobia Farms will beg to differ.

Located in scenic Saltville, Virgina, Virginia Cobia Farms has begun producing beautiful pompano for commercial sale.  Known for their work with Cobia which has earned nods from Monterey Bay Aquarium as a "best choice" for sustainability, the farm has now turned its sights on the troubled pompano and is raising them in the same sustainable manner.  The future of fish farming is here, nestled in the sublime mountains of western Virginia.

The farm uses an indoor recirculating tank to grow out their fish, which they raise from eggs.  The fish are purged for an extended amount of time to avoid any off flavors that are usually attributed to farm raised fish.  Once the fish are harvested they are iced, gilled, and gutted.  Usually they wind up to the customer within 24 hours, making this fish fresher than most.  If you compare it to a wild fish that is caught, brought in, auctioned, then shipped, these pompano are a couple of days ahead of the game.

It is also very important to note that these pompano are fed an aquafeed that is developed in-house; that's right Virginia Cobia Farms has developed their own feed.  Less than 1 pound of feed goes into the process to produce 1 pound of pompano.  That ratio is a win for the pompano and the environment. You don't have to worry about any waste ruining Saltville's Tumbling Creek or local trout either, the recirculating tank prevents escapees and the waste is repurposed for fertilizer.

These fish are swimming in on the wave of the future, the future of our healthy oceans and fish stocks.  Farming can be argued as the practice that saved the human race and helped proliferate it.  Without good farmers feeding the world there is no way we could have survived and prospered for this long.  Without good farmers, fish farmers specifically, our wild fish stocks and oceans will not survive.  I welcome you to visit the BlackSalt Fish Market and get a glimpse of the future.  A Florida Pompano born and raised in Virginia.  Years ago I would have been laughed at for saying such a thing.  Now, feeding our growing population a healthy protein that is good for them and the environment might just depend on it.

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