Catfish, anyone? Drought could change fish on California dinner plates

At Ken Beer’s fish ranch, thousands of white sturgeon and catfish thrash in round tanks or in long concrete raceways.

Beer’s 320-acre operation, called The Fishery, supplies live fish to markets and restaurants in the Sacramento region. It depends on a supply of cool water. If water temperatures are too warm, cool-water fish such as sturgeon can’t survive.

Luckily for Beer, he can tap groundwater from wells on his property to keep his business going. But some other fish farms can’t. California’s multiyear drought is changing the state’s aquaculture industry. Experts say it eventually could alter the species that wind up being sold in the state’s fish markets, farmers markets and in restaurants that buy fish directly from growers.

Rising atmospheric temperatures and drought may spur the rise of certain fish species – like catfish, said Fred Conte, aquaculture specialist at UC Davis. “Catfish do very well in higher temperature water,” Conte said…

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