Chef John Howell recently listed fresh black sea bass as one of the specials at the Bridge Tender restaurant in resort town on the North Carolina shore. He stuffed it with crab, topped it with salsa.
“We sold out of them in two nights,” Howell said. “It was sweet.” But what made the entree really special was that the fish didn’t come from the ocean — it came from a university fish farm.
Someday all the pan seared black sea bass that Howell serves customers at the Bridge Tender may come from a North Carolina bass ranch — if scientists at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and North Carolina State University are successful. They’re researching how to raise ocean fish in tanks to meet growing demand among health-conscious consumers.