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 provide new resources to supplement 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.


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“Our mission is to demonstrate both environmental and economic sustainability because they are inextricably linked.”
– Don Kent
CEO, HSWRI and Pacific Ocean AquaFarms

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Raising Native 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 selected California yellowtail (Seriola dorsalis) as the preferred species for farming. California yellowtail 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, related species 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-quality product that competes with foreign imports. The culture of yellowtail should help to offset the current demand for imported fish from other countries and reduce the carbon footprint related to imports of yellowtail from outside the U.S.

From Hatchery to Harvest

HSWRI has cultured California yellowtail since 2003 at its San Diego hatchery – the only yellowtail hatchery on the west coast of the U.S. As a result, 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 will demonstrate both commercial feasibility and environmental sustainability – establishing the highest standards for domestic seafood production through responsible marine aquaculture. 



The First Commercial Finfish Farm in U.S. Federal Waters

POA will demonstrate that healthy, premium-quality fish can be grown in the U.S. with negligible, if any, adverse environmental impacts.

The Location: 

  • 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 fourth largest consumer of seafood in the world. With the vast size of our EEZ, our advanced ocean science and technology, and exceptionally high standards for food production, we can 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. 
  • The U.S. is ranked 17th in the world for aquaculture production.
  • The U.S. has an annual  seafood industry trade deficit exceeding $16 billion. 
  • At least 85% of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported – 50%+ of that is derived from aquaculture abroad, sometimes 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.