Plans for largest US fish farm off Californian coast
THE largest fish farm in America could be built four miles off the Californian coast, according to a report in The Salt this week.
Rose Canyon Fisheries could have a footprint on the ocean floor of 1.3 square miles, about the same size as New York’s Central Park. The goal is to produce 11 million pounds of yellowtail and sea bass each year.
The Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, the non-profit research arm of the theme park SeaWorld, is partnering with a private investment firm to create the aquaculture project, based off San Diago.
Don Kent, the president and CEO of Hubbs-SeaWorld, says he wants to help correct what he calls a ‘seafood imbalance’.
Some 91 per cent of America’s seafood is imported and, said Kent, the price is going up ‘higher and higher for people like us who have to import it’.
‘So the big advantage we have over those other supplies is from the fact that we can grow it locally.’
Rose Canyon Fisheries is still applying for permits, so farming has not started yet, but Kent is already breeding yellowtail in his lab.
But the project’s size and location has met with opposition from environment groups.
Matt O’Malley, of San Diego Coastkeeper, said: ‘We’re talking about putting a floating factory farm right off the coast of San Diego.’
He said people with homes along the shore will be able to see the farm, marine mammals could get caught in the farm’s nets and ropes, and caged fish could become inbred and spread disease to the wild population.
Plus, he worries that seals and sea lions would be attracted to the caged fish and get entangled in the nets and ropes.
Other critics say America already produces some seafood, and doesn’t eat it. Americans don’t always like the fish native to their coasts, so import from other countries, according to food journalist Paul Greenberg, author of American Catch.
‘We tend to export stronger tasting things like mackerel, black cod, a lot of squid, and then we import things like shrimp, tilapia, neutral-tasting things that you can kind of deep fry and use in the American-palate-friendly sandwich,’ he says.
Aquaculture can help correct this imbalance, but ‘rather than trying to start up new and complicated ventures, first off let’s try to eat the fish we’ve already got’, said Greenberg.
Don Kent said aquaculture solved more global problems than Americans not liking fishy fish.
‘There are seven billion people on earth now and there’s going to be nine billion people in your lifetime, very soon,’ he said. ‘How are we going to feed those extra 2 billion people?’
One way to do that is through aquaculture, he said.