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New Seafood Farm Planned Off US West Coast

New Seafood Farm Planned Off US West Coast

Los Angeles, CA – A project is underway to develop the US West Coast’s first commercial shellfish “farm” in federal waters to grow mussels and scallops in their natural environment under closely monitored conditions to produce a high-quality product well-suited for export to markets all over the world.

Organized by Catalina Sea Ranch and planned on 100 acres located between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and Catalina Island, the  project is a joint effort with the Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, several non-profits and a number of private sector companies including Verizon.

As the project is planned in government-controlled waters, approval was sought from the US Army Corps of Engineers and California Coastal Commission, both of which gave the project a green light last January.

Mussels, scallops and several other varieties of bivalves, as well as shellfish including spiny lobsters, grow naturally off the Southern California coast. The Catalina Sea ranch plan calls for the SCMI to spawn the bivalves in an aquatic “nursery, where they’ll be held until they mature before being suspended on lines 30 feet below the surface to feed to filtered phytoplankton under constant monitoring for up to eight months before they’re harvested.

According to Catalina Sea Ranch, the 100-acre farm could produce as much as 2.5 million pounds of high-quality shellfish annually with buyers reportedly already lined-up to sell out the product for the next three years.

Much of what the “farm” produces will be tagged for export to overseas markets.

Currently, with the US importing some 91 percent of the seafood it consumes, the company feels that should the project prove to be a success that’s replicated, the US could stop importing shellfish and actually be an exporter of the seafood.



China Ends Ban on Pacific Northwest Shellfish

Seattle, WA – China has ended a seven month-long ban of live shellfish harvested from US West Coast waters.

The ban on the import of “double shell aquatic animals” – namely oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops –  harvested from Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Northern California was imposed after Chinese food inspectors reportedly detected high levels of inorganic arsenic in geoducks from Puget Sound.

China said it had also found paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), a biotoxin sometimes found in the algae consumed by shellfish, in geoduck clams harvested in Alaska.

High levels of inorganic arsenic and PSP were not found in the shellfish sourced in Washington, Oregon and California.

Geoducks – also known as ‘gooeyducks’ – are a species of large, burrowing, edible salt water clams that can fetch up to $50 per pound and are considered a delicacy in Asia.

China alone routinely imports about 90 percent of the 7 million pounds of geoduck harvested in Washington state annually.

The country “is a key export market for our region’s shellfish, and this news means greater economic stability for the workers and families in our region,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Washington) in a press statement.

“I look forward to working closely with federal, state, local and tribal stakeholders to ensure that the new testing and monitoring requirements can be swiftly implemented and we can get back to shipping world-famous Washington shellfish to a major market,” he said.

Following the ban, Kilmer served as a member of a bi-partisan Congressional delegation that urged the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop new procedures to monitor shellfish inspection and certification.

At the same time the ban was lifted, Beijing said it would send a team of food-safety officials to the US to monitor the testing of shellfish slated for export to China.