Fish farm officials ready to dive in

Gabriel Monte

The state has approved the permits needed to operate a proposed fish farm in south Clovis, according to Mike Sloane of the New Mexico Game and Fish Chief of Fisheries.

AquaRanch president Garth Watson said Thursday that work to continue the conversion of the former Frozfruit plant off Brady Street into a $4 million-a-year fish farm should start within the next six months. The company raises tilapia, a freshwater fish native to the Middle East.

He said the farm should begin operations this year. The farm will produce about 200,000 pounds of tilapia a month, he said.

“We should have a product in the market sometime late in the year,” he said.

The company began renovations of the plant last year but halted work last month because it was waiting on the permit from the state, according to Clovis Industrial Development Corp. business recruiter Gene Hendrick.

Utilizing two dozen 30,000 gallon tanks, Watson told the Curry County commissioners in August the plant will need about 720,000 gallons of water to charge a closed-loop aquaponic system. The system will clean the water by growing produce and herbs.

Hendrick said he is happy to hear of the progress.

“It’s a good project. I think it would be good for the community. We have high hopes for it,” he said. “But we’ve had high hopes for a lot of things in the past that went off into Never-Never Land. So I’m never surprised when that happens, but I’m really pleased when that works out.”

He said CIDC has not made an investment in the fish farm but will help the industry in any way it can.