Offshore aquaculture firm, formerly known as Kampachi Farms, rebrands as Ocean Era

Published on
February 10, 2020

The Kona, Hawaii, U.S.A.-based offshore aquaculture company formerly known as Kampachi Farms, LLC, is rebranding as Ocean Era, LLC, the firm announced on 10 February.

The move is intended to position the company to better address both opportunities and challenges facing modern aquaculturists and the planet at large, according to Neil Anthony Sims, the firm’s co-founder and CEO.

“We love our kampachi. It’s a beautiful fish! But there are multiple issues that now beset the earth – the global climate crisis; ocean acidification; the limitations of fresh water, fertilizers, and land use; and the need to feed [nine] billion people by 2050. The oceans are increasingly seen as not so much a victim of these perils, but as part of the solution,” Sims said in a press release detailing the rebranding.

Under its new moniker, Ocean Era is maintaining its work on several research and development projects revolving around kampachi (Seriola rivoliana, or almaco jack) at its land-based facility in Kona, including its selective breeding program, which focuses on the production of “faster-growing, healthier fish.” The firm is also continuing trials to accelerate broodstock maturation as a means to amplify the results of the breeding program, while developing alternative feedstuffs for kampachi and other marine fish.

Ocean Era “is already engaged in several other programs that are pursuing innovations for culture further offshore, and lower down the food chain,” Sims added.

“This is a fish that eats seaweed,” Ocean Era Research Manager Lisa Vollbrecht noted. “Herbivorous fish offer the opportunity for aquaculture to not just grow fish, but also grow the feed for the fish, potentially without reliance on wild-caught forage fish or terrestrial proteins and oils. It could be a great opportunity for fish farm expansion, particularly for small-scale farms in less developed countries.”

Working with support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E), Ocean Era is prioritizing the “Blue Fields” project, which seeks to develop offshore macroalgae culture systems and identify seaweed species for cultivation for food, feed, fertilizers, and fuel, the company said. The project is running adjacent to a second  ARPA-E initiative – in collaboration with Hawaii’s leading mainland research institutes – which is looking to adapt the microbiome of kyphosus, a seaweed-eating sea chub, to improve the biodigestion of seaweeds, Ocean Era explained.

The Velella Epsilon project – pioneering endeavor in the realm of permitting for offshore aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico – is another main pursuit of Ocean Era, it confirmed.  Funded in large part by the National SeaGrant Program through the University of Florida SeaGrant, the project involves building upon the prior Velella Beta-test (an unanchored net pen) and the Velella Gamma-test (a single-point mooring net pen operated by remote command-and-control).

“The intention is to allow the local Florida fishing and boating community to recognize that offshore aquaculture can be a boon, The earlier Velella projects in Kona were phenomenal fish-aggregating devices,” Velella Epsilon Project Manager Dennis Peters said.

Photo courtesy of CrackerClips Stock Media/Shutterstock

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