Ventura County fishermen are putting the finishing touches on a project to bring 50,000 king salmon to Oxnard's Channel Islands Harbor.
In the first such attempt in Southern California, the Ventura County chapter of the United Anglers of California Research Institute will introduce the fish into ocean waters.
If the project is successful, fishermen say, it could bring a major sport fishing business to Ventura County and set a trend for areas of Los Angeles and Orange counties.
"It could become a multimillion-dollar industry," said James Donlon, chairman of the Ventura County chapter. "The project has the potential for establishing a fishery that will be mind-boggling."
Such a venture would eliminate the need for people to leave Ventura County to fish in Oregon, Washington or Mexico, he said.
Construction of three rearing pens to be attached to the Cisco docks in Oxnard's Channel Islands Harbor is scheduled to be completed within a month. Each wooden pen, supported on plastic floats, will measure 16 feet by 16 feet and sink to a depth of 8 feet.
The fish will be reared in the pens for about five months until they weigh about a quarter of a pound and are about 10 inches long. Then they will be released.
The salmon should return to the area in two to three years when they are mature fish, the group said.
The harbor was pronounced fit for fish after being tested for the level of dissolved oxygen in the water.