bassThe future for North Carolina hybrid striped bass looks bright.

A cross between a saltwater striped bass and a freshwater white bass, the hybrid striped bass is a favorite of fishermen for its fight and popular with cooks because of its flavor.

The hybrid striped bass was introduced to U.S. aquaculture two decades ago, and North Carolina opened its first pond farm around the same time. The popular cultivar has spawned at least 14 hybrid striped bass farms throughout North Carolina – and that number is only growing. Across the country, farming hybrid striped bass is the fourth largest aquaculture endeavor, just behind catfish, salmonids and tilapia.

The hybrid striped bass, like many hybrid species, rarely reproduces naturally. The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has worked with other state and federal agencies to help North Carolina aquaculture farms develop a testing protocol that allows them to collect female white bass from the Great Lakes region.

Male striped bass are collected from brackish waters in coastal North Carolina. Fertilized eggs hatch into hatchlings, which are then placed into ponds. They grow into fingerlings, which are then stocked into ponds for production.

North Carolina farms raise the fish for food. Most restaurant menus featuring “striped bass” are referring to farm-raised hybrid striped bass. The meat is tender and flaky.

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