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  • The results of a forum organized and facilitated by the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Marine Conservation Research Institute.

    December 2008 MCRI Aquatic Forum Report

    Reference Number 2008-4

    Is OffshOre fInfIsh AquAculture in the southern california Bight an Idea Whose time has come?

  • Image of Southern California Bight sea floor: Permission of Dr. Chris Goldfinger and Jason Chaytor of Oregon State University's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences: Image of underwater open ocean aquaculture cage spar and diver: Permission of Kona Blue Fish farms Divers cleaning submersed cage: Courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

  • IS OFFSHORE FINFISH AQUACULTURE In the Southern California Bight An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

    The Results of a Forum Organized and Facilitated

    by the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Marine Conservation Research Institute

    September 20-21, 2008

    J. R. Schubel

    Corinne Monroe

    December 2008 MCRI Aquatic Forum Report

    Reference Number 2008-4

  • CONTENTS _________________________________________________________________________________ Acknowledgements iv Day 1 Introduction 1 Overview of Conference—Context and Perspective, Frames of Reference, Goals, and Objectives 3 Framing the Opportunities & the Challenges for Marine Aquaculture in Southern California The Restaurateur’s Perspective 4 The Federal Perspective 6 The State Perspective .11 The Industry Perspective 17 Framing the Opportunities & the Challenges: Questions and Comments 22 The Perspective of a Southern California Scientist 27 . Summary pf Opportunities & Challenges: Creating a Map for the Rest of the Forum 36

    Formulation of Ways to Deal with Some of the Major Issues and Opportunities Aquaculture & Wild Fish Stock 38 Economic Viability 39

    Escapees 40 Feed/Feeding Efficiency 41

    Hatcheries 42 Regulatory Predictability as a Precursor to Private Sector Investment 42 Water and Sediment Quality 43

    The Working Waterfront 44 Healthfulness of Seafood and Aquaculture Practices that Compromise it 44

    The Value Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Could Bring to the Bight 45

    AquaModel Simulation of Operations & Environmental Impacts of Net Pen Fish Farms 46 Panel 1: Responses on How to Increase the Opportunities and Decrease the Risks of Siting and Other Issues Associated with Offshore Finfish Aquaculture in the Southern California 56 Comments 65 Summary of Day 1 Day 2 Re-cap of Day 1 and a Possible Way Forward: Setting the Stage 70 Panel 2: Responses on How to Decrease the Risks and Increase the Opportunities of an Offshore Finfish Aquaculture Demonstration Project in the Southern California Bight 73 Assembling the Pieces—Point/Counter Point. Arguments For and Against an Offshore Aquaculture Demonstration Project in the Southern California Bight 92 Comments and Questions 94 Concluding Remarks 101 Forum Summary, Recommendations, Conclusions 102 Appendixes References 104 Participants 108 Speaker Biographies 110 Sustainable Ocean Act (SB201) 115

  • Acknowledgements __________________________________________________________________________ Our thanks to: The forum sponsors The forum participants who came together from academia, industry, organizations, and governmental agencies to share information, knowledge, strategies, concerns, technology, and experiences to help answer the question: ”Is Offshore Finfish Aquaculture in the Southern California Bight An Idea Whose Time Has Come?” The Chancellor’s office of the California State University System for making the administrative facility of the CSUS available to us The Aquarium of the Pacific Staff who provided audiovisual services, arranged the logistics, designed the report cover, and diligently took notes.


  • INTRODUCTION __________________________________________________________________________ THE FACTS: • More than 80% of the seafood consumed in California is imported, mostly from Asia, contributing

    to food miles and the carbon footprint. • The per capita demand for seafood in the greater Los Angeles area is twice the national average

    and growing. • The Southern California Bight may be among the best and most suitable coastal areas in the

    entire U.S. for offshore aquaculture. It has favorable oceanographic conditions—infrequent major storms, relatively deep water with good exchange close to shore, and an array of high value, native species to choose from.

    • The Southern California Bight has excellent coastal fisheries infrastructure and is close to major seafood markets.


    Is there an opportunity for development of offshore finfish aquaculture in the Southern California Bight?

    Courtesy of NOAA THE HYPOTHESIS:

    Southern California could support an offshore finfish aquaculture industry that could become a $1 billion/year industry with only a very small percentage of State waters or the EEZ in the Southern California Bight dedicated to this purpose. A properly constructed and managed industry would provide a safe, secure, stable supply of healthful seafood to the region, would help relieve pressure on wild fish stocks, and would help conserve the remaining working waterfront—all without unacceptable adverse impacts on the environment and other uses of the ocean.

    SEARCHING FOR THE ANSWER: Stakeholders, policy makers, regulators, scientists, and a wide range of experts in aquaculture and fisheries—proponents, opponents, and the undecided—met on September 19-20, 2008 to test the hypothesis. This report is a result of their deliberations.


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    Participants in this forum were selected because of their scientific expertise and experience in ocean aquaculture. Included were individuals responsible for aquaculture at the state level in California (Devin Bartley) and at the federal level (Michael Rubino). Also selected were individuals from the

  • - 2 -

    environmental NGO community whose organizations have been deeply involved in aquaculture, particularly in the search for sustainable approaches to fish farming. It is the nature of science that hypotheses can never be proven; only disproven. Our strategy was first to make the strongest case we could in support of the hypothesis and then to attack it. Attacking it had two objectives: first to determine if the hypothesis was untenable as stated and second to identify those areas that compromise sustainability and make the hypothesis vulnerable. These should become topics for further research and development. The premise of the forum reflects the philosophy of the Aquarium of the Pacific that if we are to meet the growing demand for seafood while protecting wild stocks, then aquaculture—including open ocean aquaculture—must play a significant role and it must be done sustainably. Aquaculture practices, past and present, have not always been sustainable, but we have the knowledge and the technology to do it sustainably. California has the ocean conditions, the infrastructure, the experience and expertise, and the ocean ethic to set high environmental standards that could serve as a model for sustainable offshore aquaculture for the rest of the nation and the world. We also have the demand. Public forums and meetings will be required. It is clear that if open ocean aquaculture is to have a future in California, we will have to build an aquaculture constituency. This will require a major public outreach and education program.

    Jerry R. Schubel President and CEO Aquarium of the Pacific Long Beach, CA December 2008

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    DAY 1: SEPTEMBER 19, 2008


    The desired outputs of the forum are to: 1) Create a report that will provide California’s policy-makers with accurate, up-to-date, and unbiased

    information that will help them make informed decisions about the advisability, achievability, and value of nurturing development of a


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