The Catalina Sea Ranch

The Lempert Report
August 21, 2014

Having joined forces with Verizon, CSR secured the first permit for offshore aquaculture in U.S. Federal waters

Phil Lempert According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s FishWatch program, the United States produces only 5 percent of it's own seafood supply. Thanks to an innovative business concept however, this statistic is about to change. Catalina Sea Ranch, joining forces with Verizon and utilizing some impressive technology, has secured the first permit for offshore aquaculture in U.S. Federal waters and is poised to become the first commercial shellfish producer, right here off the West Coast, farming 100 acres of open ocean for Mediterranean mussels and scallops. Take a look at how technology and innovation are bringing fish farming back to the US!

Phil Cruver So, there’s a tremendous market here.  From the US, it’s documented here, from NOAA, that over 33 million pounds of live, and I’m underscoring live mussels, are imported into the United States, every year.  We think we can grow our own offshore in California.  What we’ll be doing is cultivating mussels about 6 miles offshore.  We’ll produce 2 1/2 million pounds of mussels about 8 months after we seed the ranch.

This is definitely a sustainable product because of the filter feeding capabilities of the bivalves.  That means shellfish whether it be oysters, mussels, scallops, they filter the water, they don’t pollute the water, so that’s why we had the environmental community behind it and that’s why w were successful in getting the permit.

 It’s very innovative because it’s offshore.  There’s a very robust shellfish aquaculture industry globally but no one’s every ranched them offshore.  The unique thing about what we’re doing is it’s in federal waters, i.e. 3 miles out form the California shoreline.  

Catalina Sea Ranch secured the first permit because we’re the first ones that really tried.  It was a lot of luck, it was serendipity and a lot of hard work.  The most important part is getting Verizon involved because we wanted to do real time automated monitoring.  We don’t want to go out once a month and take water samples.  We want to have the ability to transmit that data remotely and automatically in to the Verizon network then into the cloud and then the scientists can collaborate and evaluate and make sure there’s no negative impact.  

Also, we had to really really focus on the hatchery science.  So we can spawn the shellfish and have seed because without seed you don’t have a crop.

Kelly Stromberg Algae is the food source for all bivalves.  We're able to do this with the industrial plankton bioreactor.  The real interesting thing  about this is using the Verizon cloud we can actually access via a phone anywhere in the world.  

Phil Lempert Over the next few months Catalina Sea Ranch will be adding the verizon smart buoy, placing additional equipment and waiting for the Mediterranean mussel to grow to the optimal size for harvest. 

Phil Cruver We don’t want all 2.5 million pounds coming to market all at once.  We want to see one line in November,  two lines in December, three lines in February.  Then harvest them and sell them 8 months later.  

We’re in Southern California.  This is going to be very fresh, live shellfish for the California consumer and for the Midwest.  We have our distributors all across the US, they’re actually strategic investors in the company, so it’s going to be good for America and particularly good for locovores California.