A Collaboration for Sustainability
Pacific Ocean AquaFarms (POA) is a collaboration between Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI) and Pacific6. HSWRI is an internationally respected institution with over a 55-year legacy of pioneering marine science and environmental conservation, and 40 years experience with marine fish aquaculture. Pacific6 is a Long Beach based investment and development firm committed to important initiatives that positively impact people and their communities.
Both organizations share a vision for how sustainable marine aquaculture can help feed a hungry world and revitalize the U.S. seafood industry – by emphasizing proven science, embracing regulatory oversight, utilizing best practices and latest technologies, and demonstrating a diligent concern for the environment.
A MODEL FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF OFFSHORE AQUACULTURE
Raising California Yellowtail in its Natural Environment
POA plans to permit, construct and operate a commercial-scale, environmentally sustainable seafood farm approximately four miles off the coast of southern California. The mild climate, temperate waters, strong currents and natural shelter from extreme weather provide an ideal location to raise farmed fish.
POA has specifically selected California yellowtail (Seriola dorsalis) as the preferred species for farming. Seriola dorsalis is a transitory, seasonally abundant species that is native to southern California and thrives in the fast-moving water column. They are valued as both a game and food fish, are farmed successfully and sustainably around the world, and are highly prized in sushi markets – sold as Hiramasa.
POA’s focus will be to provide a fresh, sushi-grade product that competes with foreign imports – not with local fishermen. The culture of yellowtail should help to offset the current demand for imported fish from other countries (Mexico, Australia and Japan) and not impact the local market for commercially harvested wild yellowtail. It will also reduce the carbon footprint related to the importation of yellowtail from outside the U.S.
From Hatchery to Harvest
HSWRI has cultured Seriola dorsalis since 2003 at its San Diego hatchery – the only yellowtail hatchery on the west coast of the U.S. Their culture cycle, methodology and adaptation to open-ocean pen farming are well understood. The hatchery will provide juveniles to Pacific Ocean AquaFarms so that the origin and grow-out of every fish can be closely monitored and traced.
Careful stocking will allow for natural schooling so the fish can grow in an environment promoting optimal health. POA will follow industry best practices and embrace the strictest regulatory oversight and food safety standards to guarantee premium quality, and the short journey from farm to plate will ensure the freshest product available.
The farm will allow for year-round production and employment – providing consistent product to market while working in conjunction with local commercial fishing operations.
The project aims to demonstrate both commercial feasibility and environmental sustainability – paving the way for more domestic seafood production through responsible marine aquaculture.
PIONEERING OPEN-OCEAN AQUACULTURE IN THE U.S. EEZ
The First Commercial Finfish Farm in U.S. Federal Waters
With a commitment to utilizing the best available science and technology, and a diligent commitment to the environment, POA will demonstrate that healthy, premium-quality fish can be grown in the U.S. with negligible, if any, adverse environmental impacts.
- Sited to minimize conflicts with commercial and recreational fishing, shipping and military activities.
- Located outside the coastal zone and within natural range for the species.
- Close to robust consumer markets.
- Utilizing local commercial fishing infrastructure, including individuals and their vessels.
- The farm will be responsibly scaled up over a five-year period with a comprehensive monitoring program to ensure minimal impact on the surrounding ecosystem.
An Immense Opportunity and Need
The U.S. has the largest contiguous Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the world. This area – surrounding our nation, 3 to 200 miles offshore – provides a wide range of natural habitats that can support many commercially viable, farmable species, and it is ideally suited to open-ocean finfish aquaculture. Compared to near-shore (state) waters, the EEZ offers better water quality, fewer conflicting uses and a more natural habitat for fish. Small areas of the EEZ could produce significant amounts of farmed seafood – and do so safely and sustainably.
The U.S. is the second largest consumer of seafood in the world. With the vast size of our EEZ, our advanced ocean science and technology, and our exceptionally high standards for food production, we have the potential, and the need, to lead the world in developing responsible and sustainable marine aquaculture, while helping ensure our domestic food security.
Unfortunately, despite opportunity and resources, the U.S. lags well behind other nations:
- U.S. aquaculture production currently accounts for less than 1% of globally farmed seafood.
- We are ranked 17th in the world for aquaculture production.
- We have an annual seafood industry trade deficit exceeding $16 billion.
- At least 85% of the seafood we consume is imported – 50%+ of that is derived from aquaculture abroad with minimal quality oversight.
of U.S. Seafood Consumed is Imported
of Imported Seafood is Farmed
U.S. Aquaculture World Ranking
Trade Deficit in Billions $
A Domestic Imperative
The result is that the vast majority of our seafood is being provided without traceability, product quality assurance, or the ability to ensure that foreign suppliers are meeting our rigorous environmental and agricultural regulatory standards. There is a serious impact on our national trade deficit and on-going concern for food security, food standards and an increased carbon footprint of the seafood we eat. Additionally, increasing wealth and growth of middle class consumers in countries like China and Brazil will result in a higher domestic demand for the seafood they produce, making supply less available for export to other countries like ours.
The question is: Will the United States continue to rely upon other countries to grow its seafood, or will we develop a sustainable domestic industry that stimulates our own economy while enhancing the security of our nation’s food supply?
Pacific Ocean AquaFarms believes there is one logical answer to this question. We are therefore committed to developing a seafood farm that will serve as a model for aquaculture in the EEZ – producing healthy food, creating jobs, supporting the working waterfronts and providing new opportunities for generations to come.
50 YEARS OF CONSERVATION AND SCIENTIFIC SOLUTIONS
Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI) is a non-profit (501(c)(3) scientific research organization with laboratories and offices in San Diego and Carlsbad, CA, and in Melbourne Beach, FL. With 50 years of conservation research experience and over 35 years of aquaculture experience, HSWRI is committed to conserving and renewing marine life to ensure a healthier planet and is the only California entity to have successfully demonstrated open-ocean aquaculture.
HSWRI is a national leader in the hatchery production of marine finfish and operates a production-scale hatchery in Carlsbad, CA capable of rearing millions of fingerling marine fish annually. In cooperation with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, white seabass produced at this hatchery are released into the ocean to evaluate how to replenish wild stocks that have been depleted by overfishing and habitat loss.
HSWRI also operates a research-scale hatchery in San Diego, CA for rearing other commercially valuable species – both for replenishment and marine farming. Both hatchery facilities use state-of-the-art, energy-efficient life support systems and are operated to comply with California’s rigorous permit requirements.
POSITIVELY IMPACTING PEOPLE & THEIR COMMUNITIES
Pacific6 is an investment partnership based in Long Beach, CA. The partnership’s six founders are committed to identifying, investing, and being intimately involved in important and inspiring initiatives that make a difference.
A long-term relationship with the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach raised the company’s awareness of the importance of aquaculture and marine conservation in the future of our global food supply. This inspired Pacific6’s involvement – to provide leadership and support in demonstrating the viability of ocean-based aquaculture through best practices, responsible stewardship and diligent consideration for the environment.
Projects include offshore aquaculture for fish and mussels, developing shellfish breeding programs, and exploring the immense potential of seaweed.
A HEALTHY FORM OF PROTEIN
Fish is an ideal food to feed our growing planet. It is a high protein, low fat, and nutritionally rich food. Among animal protein sources, seafood is among the healthiest for human consumption. Seafood provides a healthy alternative to beef and pork and is a necessary source of nutrition, long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids, and micronutrients, and there is a growing awareness of the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids on neurological and cardiac health. These benefits may be particularly important in developing countries, for maternal health, and in early childhood development.
The New Super Fish is Yellowtail. Yellowtail is comparable to beef in its protein per ounce, and its fatty-acid profile is similar to that of salmon. It has a meaty, flaky texture, but a lighter flavor, like most of the whitefish that Americans enjoy. (Mens Health Magazine)
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that Americans are currently eating about half the recommended amount of seafood based on dietary guidelines developed by nutritionists.
CALIFORNIA YELLOWTAIL – Seriola dorsalis
California yellowtail (Seriola dorsalis) has been selected as the initial species, as it is native to California waters, and cultured juveniles are readily available from HSWRI hatcheries.
A transitory, seasonally abundant species in Southern California, yellowtail are valued as both a game and food fish. They are highly prized in the sushi markets and sold as Hiramasa. Japanese yellowtail (Seriola quinqueradiata) are farmed and imported to the U.S. to be sold as Hamachi. Only farmed yellowtail meet the exacting standards required by the sushi market. The California yellowtail would be a domestically grown alternative to the farmed Japanese yellowtail.
Captive broodstock are located at HSWRI’s research facility in San Diego under controlled conditions and provide eggs in the spring and summer. Their production cycle can range from 18 to 22 months. Juveniles are available for stocking year-round from the HSWRI hatchery operation.
POA farmed yellowtail will only compete with imported product and not with locally caught fish – thereby protecting the existing market for wild-caught yellowtail that meet a different market niche.
The culture of yellowtail should help to offset the current demand for imported yellowtail from other countries (Mexico, Australia and Japan) for the regional sushi market and not impact the local market for commercially harvested wild yellowtail.
This will greatly reduce the carbon footprint related to the importation of this fish from outside the U.S.