Catalina Sea Ranch
Globally, filter-feeding bivalve shellfish are key players in ecologically sustainable ocean aquaculture, and as environmentally sensitive water monitors and purifiers. Shellfish are successfully farmed throughout the world and represent a legitimate use of the marine environment for sustainable food production. Founded in 2012, Catalina Sea Ranch is in an ideal spot for aquaculture. Located on the San Pedro Shelf, the consistent depth of 150 feet, strong flushing characteristics from upwelling, and benign weather conditions allow the ranch to produce high-quality, natural seafood. The company’s goal is to expand its ranch, with scientific data supporting no negative environmental or social impacts. They intend to expand by diversifying their shellfish crop to include other lucrative and sustainable fisheries, such as the native purple hinge rock scallop. The company is also developing a NOMAD buoy for remote, real-time environmental monitoring in order to advance offshore aquaculture and marine spatial planning.
Catalina Sea Ranch has partnered with the University of Southern California to produce higher performing bivalve shellfish by identifying the genetic trait that allows the bivalve to overcome challenging environmental conditions, as well as perform selective breeding to quickly meet market size. In the United States, NOAA announced in 2015 its national aquaculture policies, establishing a framework to allow sustainable domestic aquaculture to contribute to the U.S. seafood supply. There is an emphasis on sustainable marine aquaculture through a “National Shellfish Initiative” for increasing shellfish farming and restoration. Catalina Sea Ranch is developing the first “Open Ocean Shellfish Ranch in United States Federal Waters" pursuant to NOAA's new aquaculture policy. This project, which is monitored by independent scientists, provides science-based solutions for sustainable and environmentally friendly marine spatial planning, creates jobs, and will help reduce the nation's $10 billion seafood deficit.