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Fish farming in the Basin

  Local business is raising tilapia
  by MEGAN DOYLE, Herald and News 6/19/09 
     Ron Barnes feeds thousands of fish three times a day so they will grow big enough to be sold in grocery stores.

   He started raising the fish — tilapia — five months ago in ponds off Lower Klamath Lake Road. Tilapia are algaeeating, warm-water fish   that originated in Africa and the Mediterranean.

   Water in Barnes’ geothermally heated ponds is kept at 85 degrees, which allows him to operate year-round.

   “The geothermal makes this possible,” he said.

   His tilapia already is sold locally at Sherm’s Thunderbird Market. It is a mild-flavored fish that is similar to cod.  

   Barnes, 46, and his wife, Dawn, are the first, and so far only people, in Oregon to be licensed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to raise tilapia.

   Gone Fishing

   Barnes operates a business called Gone Fishing and has raised African cichlids, an aquarium fish, for 19 years.    

    When he decided to expand, he applied for and received a Community Development Block Grant through the Southern Central Oregon Economic Development District that helped him pay for the fish and food. Each fish costs about 10 cents.

   He buys male tilapia at about six weeks old and raises them in 10 of his 46 ponds until they reach a weight of about 1.3 pounds at about five months. The other ponds continue to produce the aquarium fish.

   He had a hard time convincing Fish and Wildlife officials that his plan to raise tilapia would work, and he had to keep documenting water temperatures until they were convinced.

South Central Oregon Economic Development District officials worked with Barnes long before he was ready to purchase the fish, said executive director Betty Riley.

   “His vision is to be able to produce the tilapia here locally and be able to expand his business to be able to enter into contracts with larger fish suppliers,” she said.

   Economic development officials helped him with state regulations, developing a business strategy and phasing it in with consideration for additional loans.


   Currently, he employs two people at Gone Fishing. But, if Barnes reaches his goal of contracting with other fish suppliers, he may hire an additional 18.

   Anyone could start a business like Barnes did, Riley said.

   “A part of it is sitting down and writing out a business plan,” she said.    


  H&N photo by Andrew Mariman

   Ron Barnes feeds month-old tilapia Thursday inside a greenhouse at his Lower Klamath Lake Road fish farm. To view more photos, go to  heraldandnews.com   and click on the photo gallery.





  Tilapia in their first month of development are kept in a pool inside a greenhouse. After one month, they are moved to outdoor pools where they mature.





  H&N photos by Andrew Mariman


   Ron Barnes feeds tilapia Thursday at his fish farm on Lower Klamath Lake Road. He started raising tilapia five months ago.


























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