How will optimal water quality be maintained around the project?
Safeguarding the water quality and surrounding habitat is of critical importance to Pacific Ocean AquaFarms and our commitment to sustainability.
POA will be located in deep, open-ocean waters, ensuring free flowing, natural currents.
Advances in science and technology including engineering, nutrition and fish health, combined with stringent management practices and monitoring programs, will minimize the farm’s impact.
The farm will also be responsibly scaled up over a five-year period with a comprehensive environmental monitoring program to ensure minimal impact on the surrounding ecosystem.
What will the yellowtail be fed?
POA will use pelleted feed purchased from a Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certified feed plant, formulated specifically for yellowtail to maximize fish health and performance – with a specific focus on the nutritional requirements of the fish.
POA recognizes that feed technology can rapidly change and intends to use the best available product on the market at any given time. As new formulas are developed, they will be assessed and used if appropriate. Feeds will be assessed based on their content, as well as land and water required to produce them.
Historical concerns about “net loss of protein” – e.g., requiring more than one pound of protein to produce one pound of fish – have been and continue to be addressed with alternate feeds that use less fish meal and fish oil.
HSWRI, in partnership with experts nationwide, has conducted numerous trials in the laboratory testing alternate ingredients in yellowtail diets. Several have yielded better performance than traditional commercial feeds. These, and others will be tested and evaluated over time.
Feed is 40-50% of operational cost of aquaculture, so there are significant financial incentives to minimize fishmeal and fish oil as alternative feeds could reduce costs.
How will the risk of fish escapes be minimized?
Using the latest net pen technology and engineering for all systems is key to minimizing the risk of escapements.
Pens have been designed to withstand weather and ocean conditions much more extreme than those observed in southern California. Submergible technology will allow them to be lowered below the surface for additional protection during heavy weather events.
Rigorous inspection and preventive maintenance on net pens and mooring systems will be regular and ongoing.
Comprehensive lighting and marking per Coast Guard requirements will prevent collision and damage.
How will fish health be ensured?
POA will ensure high standards of care of cultured fish by following animal welfare principles outlined by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Fish health begins by sourcing high-quality fingerlings. Our fingerlings will be provided by our scientific consultant, HSWRI, which has cultivated yellowtail for years.
Raising the fish in their natural habitat with deep water and seasonal water temperatures that suit them and providing fresh, high-quality feed specially formulated for the species will ensure healthy growth. Careful stocking to maintain optimal fish densities will allow for natural schooling so the fish can grow in an environment allowing for optimal health.
An aquatic animal health team, comprised of farm site managers, technical staff with skills in aquatic animal health, U.S. and California-licensed veterinarians, and a biosecurity officer will use the latest in science-based methodologies to implement a comprehensive Fish Health Management Plan.
What chemicals and/or therapeutics will be used?
POA’s comprehensive Fish Management Plan will strive to maximize fish health so that we minimize the need to use therapeutants – the best approach is disease prevention.
The project will follow stringent FDA oversight regulations; any treatments must be prescribed by a veterinarian in accord with those regulations.
Currently, the only treatment approved for net pen fish operations (other than salmon) is 35% pharmaceutical-grade hydrogen peroxide. This disassociates into water and oxygen when applied and is completely harmless to the fish and environment.
How will the physical structure affect the surrounding environment and other marine animals, including marine mammals?
POA will use a comprehensive biological assessment to understand the potential for marine animal interactions and ways to minimize their potential. This will address all marine mammals likely to be found in the area, as well as numerous other species.
Animal interactions with the physical structures are expected to be minimal. Depending on size and behavior, most marine animals will simply avoid the facility.
Submerged lines will be kept taut to minimize entanglement risks. Best practices will be used to minimize the potential to attract marine animals to the farm. There will be continuous observation and monitoring to mitigate any potential interactions.
Historically, aquaculture has caused only 20 entanglements over a decade, even with enough lines in the water to wrap around the Earth several times.
Why is the project sited in Federal waters (U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone)?
Currently a permitting regimen exists for finfish aquaculture in Federal waters, but not in California state waters.
Compared to near-shore (state) waters, the EEZ offers stronger currents, 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.
With the vast size of our EEZ, our advanced ocean science and technology, and our exceptionally high standards for food production, we can develop responsible and sustainable marine aquaculture, while helping ensure domestic food security.
Why California yellowtail?
California yellowtail (Seriola dorsalis) is a native species to the California coast that are readily adaptable to year-round production.
HSWRI has extensive experience culturing and studying yellowtail. Similar species are cultured globally in net pens with great success.
There is a strong demand for fresh, high-quality yellowtail. Our focus is a sushi-grade product to compete with Japanese imports, not with the wild catch of local fishermen.
The culture of yellowtail in California can help to offset the current demand for imported yellowtail from other countries and not impact the local market for commercially harvested wild yellowtail. This will greatly reduce the carbon footprint compared to importing this fish.
How will POA ensure product quality?
Ultimately, maximizing fish health will maximize product quality.
POA will oversee every stage of the culturing process – from acquiring fingerlings, to controlling fish nutrition, to making sure that fish are harvested on demand and provided directly to local processors to ensure maximum quality.
POA will follow industry best practices and embrace the strictest state and federal regulatory oversight and food safety standards to guarantee premium quality.
The short journey from farm to plate will ensure the freshest product available while reducing the carbon footprint related to the importation of yellowtail from outside the U.S.
What does this project hope to accomplish?
Pacific Ocean AquaFarms is committed to developing a marine seafood farm that will serve as a model for offshore aquaculture – producing healthy food, creating jobs, and supporting working waterfronts – all while vigorously protecting the ocean’s natural resources.
POA aims to demonstrate both commercial feasibility and environmental sustainability – paving the way for more domestic seafood production through responsible marine aquaculture.
With best practices, responsible stewardship and diligent consideration for the environment, we can: Do It Here. Do It Right. Do It Now.
How big will the POA operation be?
In both potential project locations, an area of 1,025 acres has been designated as “suitable for potential use.” However, the total area comprising POA’s operation will be far less. The total surface area will be 59 acres and total contact on the sea floor will be 3.4 acres.