What’s open-ocean aquaculture’s future?

Neil Sims, co-founder of Kona Blue Water Farms and the Ocean Stewards Institute, is passionate about fish farming.

At the World Aquaculture Society’s Aquaculture 2010 conference in San Diego early last month, Sims challenged a roomful of colleagues to become not just advocates of open-ocean aquaculture but also activists. He also called on the audience to think big picture and to ask: How will the world’s insatiable appetite for fish be quenched if wild seafood production has leveled off and farmed seafood production isn’t allowed to expand?

Becoming activists and thinking big may be what it takes for open-ocean aquaculture to reach its potential in the United States, which certainly exists — there are more than 3.4 million square miles of U.S. waters, and open-ocean fish farming has a sustainable, environmentally friendly profile.

But a lot of things must fall into place for open-ocean aquaculture to flourish in U.S. waters beyond the handful of fish farms in operation now.

A panel of key industry players will talk about what’s needed for open-ocean fish farming to succeed in the United States at a question-and-answer webinar hosted by SeafoodSource on Thursday at 2 p.m. EST.

In addition to Sims, webinar speakers include David Tze, managing director of Aquacopia Capital Management in New York, Steve Page, owner of Ocean Farm Technologies in Searsport, Maine, and Scott Lindell, director of the Marine Biological Laboratory scientific aquaculture program in Woods Hole, Mass.

The speakers will discuss how difficult the permitting process is and why a federal regulatory framework is necessary; how new technology is making open-ocean aquaculture more efficient; which species are best-suited for open-ocean aquaculture; how to attract the investment community; and how to manage production and labor costs.

As Sims emphasized in San Diego last month, simply being part of the discussion is not enough — actively engaging industry players, scientists, environmentalists and lawmakers on the benefits of open-ocean aquaculture is paramount to the industry’s growth.

If you’re looking to get involved in the discussion, Thursday’s SeafoodSource webinar is an ideal place to start.

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