For emerging aquaculture operations, patience and consistency is key

A panel at the 2024 Global Seafood Market Conference highlighting how to establish a new aquaculture operation.

As aquaculture operations raising novel species in unique ways begin to establish themselves in the market, one of the most important resources to have is patience, a panel of experts said.

During the Global Seafood Market Conference – running from 23 to 25 January in Orlando, Florida, U.S.A. – a group of emerging aquaculture industry executives gave an overview of the trials and tribulations of debuting either a new species, a new farming method, or both. While those speaking on the panel raise different species in various markets, the one thing they all agreed on is a need for persistence and patience. 

“You have to have patient capital,” Blue Ocean Mariculture CEO Dick Jones said.

Blue Ocean Mariculture farms kampachi off the coast of Kona, Hawaii, U.S.A. and is currently the only open-ocean aquaculture finfish farm in the U.S. While its farms are located relatively close to shore, the farms are located in 200 feet of water and in water conditions that mimic that of water up to 40 miles off the coast. 

Farms like Blue Ocean, Jones said, are pioneering new technologies and new species in ways that often won’t bring returns for years – hence the need for patience. 

“In those early days where you’re only growing a few hundred tons offshore, the economics are more than upside-down, and it’s really difficult,” Jones said.

Finding the right species is also a challenge. Jones said in the early iterations of farming, the company’s founder, Neil Sims, experimented with a number of different species, with mixed results. 

Mahi, it turns out, was a bad choice for the type of aquaculture operation Blue Ocean was aiming to establish. 

“He started with 100 … and then ended with one because they just ate each other,” Jones said. “You have to learn those things as you’re continuing to evolve and learn the species that you want to grow, seeing what works best for your market.”

Considering the right market is another factor in establishing a successful new aquaculture operation. Jones said it’s important to make sure ... 

Photo courtesy of Chris Chase/SeafoodSource

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