By James Wright, SeaFood Business senior editor
07 September, 2012
If Peter Drucker was right about fish farming, Phil Cruver wants to offer proof. Drucker, the late Nobel laureate and economist, in 1999 predicted, “Aquaculture, not the Internet, represents the most promising investment opportunity of the 21st Century.” With finite fisheries resources, a growing global population and increasing demand for seafood, the conditions appear ripe for industry growth.
However, despite the auspicious Marine Aquaculture Policy released last year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a thriving offshore aquaculture industry is not much closer to reality than it was before. The agency is often at loggerheads with state regulators over siting and environmental-impact issues. And in the time it takes to iron out differences, investors may choose to look elsewhere.
Cruver says this can’t happen. The social entrepreneur and his colleagues are undeterred by the odds they and other aquaculture hopefuls face; they’re seeking $3 million in venture capital to get KZO Shellfish Farms operational off the coast of Long Beach, Calif., while slogging through the regulatory process. How they fare could indicate whether the tide is turning in aquaculture’s favor.
Cruver, president of KZO, received a provisional permit last month from the Army Corps of Engineers to establish a 100-acre bivalve shellfish farm 9 miles offshore in the Southern California Bight,. If approved, it would be the first offshore shellfish farm in federal waters — and, if extensive monitoring can prove no negative environmental impacts, Cruver hopes to expand to 1,000 acres.
Of the many obstacles that must be cleared before a single mussel rope is placed in the water, the California Coastal Commission, which plans and regulates land and water use in the state’s coastal zone but has no jurisdiction over federal waters, has proven to be the most significant.
Cruver concedes that the commission has been cooperative and that its leave-no-stone-unturned approach is obligatory. At press time, however, plans were being held up to complete a federal consistency certification, which Cruver expects will last into the fall.
Click here to read the full story which ran in the August issue of SeaFood Business >
07 September, 2012