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Juvenile white sea bass released into pens in San Diego Bay

About 30,000 juvenile white sea bass were recently released into netted pens in San Diego Bay as part of an effort to increase the population off California, the Port of San Diego announced Friday.

The fish were put in the grow-out facilities in the bay near the Grape Street Pier at the corner of Hawthorn and North Harbor Drive, and once they grow to 12 inches they will be released into the ocean, according to the port.

The Port of San Diego has committed $100,000 over three years for the white sea bass restocking program, which was instituted in 2000 by the San Diego Oceans Foundation and Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute.

The program releases 40,000 to 60,000 white sea bass every year. The fish are tagged so scientists can determine how old they are and where they came from if they are caught.

“This restocking program helps maintain a healthy abundance of fish and a sustainable population of white sea bass,” said Kelly Makley, associate environmental specialist for the port.

White sea bass began to decline in the 1950s because of over fishing and habitat destruction. But, in recent years, the populations have been on the rebound.