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.