Rose Canyon Fisheries, Inc. (RCF) is a partnership between Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI), a 501(c)(3) research organization, and Cuna del Mar (CdM), a private equity fund dedicated to developing sustainable aquaculture. RCF will permit, establish and operate a commercial-scale fish farm off the San Diego, CA coast. This will be the first operation of its kind in federal waters of the United States. By combining the scientific and environmental expertise of HSWRI with the mission focus and direct open ocean aquaculture experience of Cuna del Mar, RCF will help pioneer environmentally and economically sustainable methods for providing healthy seafood to meet our Nation’s growing demand for healthy seafood.
CdM and HSWRI through RCF share a vision to feed future generations in harmony with the ocean. The RCF collaboration is dedicated to fulfilling a major void in our Nation’s seafood industry – a reliable, sustainable source of healthy, premium fish, grown with care in a clean, natural and regulated environment. RCF is committed to improving the standards of the aquaculture industry through safe and sustainable innovation. As RCF continues to innovate and improve culture protocols, it hopes to provide locally produced seafood thereby greatly reducing the energy requirements of transporting fish to the US market, while creating and demonstrating a sustainable and domestic solution.
Over the past five decades, HSWRI has provided global leadership in marine conservation research, including studies in marine aquaculture. HSWRI operates two marine fish hatcheries in southern California and several cage sites in California. HSWRI has expertise in fish nutrition, reproduction, health, genetics, and physiology, as well as site selection and permitting, systems engineering, and environmental monitoring.
Since 2010 CdM has been advancing the development of sustainable marine fish farming by providing investment capital to expand established and start-up farms in Latin America as well as to further develop open ocean marine farming equipment. CdM has financial and management interests in shellfish farms on the Pacific Coast of Baja California as well as in fish farms in La Paz, Mexico and along the Gulf Coast of Panama. CdM has like interests in two US based companies that design, fabricate and install open ocean marine fish cages.
Together, HSWRI and CdM have formed RCF that incorporates the combined expertise of both organizations to demonstrate how a commercial scale fish farm can provide new job opportunities for commercial fishermen and support existing seafood processing and distribution jobs while respecting the environment of southern California. The proposed farm will also provide an invaluable benefit to resource agencies charged with balancing commercial uses of the ocean with the need to conserve the invaluable marine ecosystem for the benefit of future generations of both animal and human populations.
This project is being driven by the growing global demand for healthful seafood and a lack of domestic production. Traditional harvest fisheries are fully exploited and cannot meet this increasing demand. The expanding market is fueled by an increasing world population and the growing per capita consumption of seafood. In the US, more than 91% of seafood is imported and half of that supply comes from aquaculture. This represents a $10.4 billion contribution to the US trade deficit.
The proposed project will annually produce 5,000 metric tons (MT) of yellowtail jack, white seabass and striped bass in sea cages that will be located 4.5 miles (7.2 kilometers) from the San Diego shoreline. Yellowtail jack has been chosen as the initial species as cultured juveniles are readily available from HSWRI hatcheries. The site will also be permitted for other local species which will be interchangeable with yellowtail jack when the project has become operational and depending on availability of juveniles and permit conditions. Production will be phased, beginning at 1,000 to 1,500 MT in the first production cycle in order to achieve operational efficiency and ensure environmental compatibility. Based on these data, the project will gradually expand to 5,000 MT annual production, which is expected by year eight. Initially, recently developed submersible cages will be deployed, but the farm will have the capacity to test new containment systems as they are developed over time.
If successful, this project will serve as a model for the development of offshore aquaculture in California and the United States. It will create jobs, including new opportunities for commercial fishermen, and it will ensure that the existing infrastructure for fish processing and distribution has a viable future. The consumer will benefit from a year-round supply of high quality seafood that is safe and healthful. The environment will benefit as a high quality seafood source is produced significantly more efficiently than capture fisheries or land-based practices can achieve. In addition, the supplemental supply of high quality farmed fish will take pressure off wild fisheries.