Eric Pedersen, co-founder of Pacifico Aquaculture co-founder and farm manager of Earth Ocean Farms, dies

Published on
February 22, 2022
Eric Pedersen, the co-founder of Ensenada, Mexico-based striped bass farmer Pacifico Aquaculture, has died, according to the company.

Eric Pedersen, the co-founder of Ensenada, Mexico-based striped bass farmer Pacifico Aquaculture, has died, according to the company.

"The Pacifico Aquaculture family extends sincere condolences to the loved ones and colleagues of one of our founders, Eric Pedersen,” the company said in a public statement. “We will always remember and hold dear the legacy that he leaves as a pioneer in the development of the aquaculture industry in Mexico.”

Pedersen left Pacifico Aquaculture in 2017 to become the farm manager for La Paz, Mexico-based Earth Ocean Farms, which grows totoaba and red snapper in offshore cages off Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.

“At Earth Ocean Farms we will always remember Eric Pedersen,” the company said in a 17 February Facebook post. “Since 2016, he was part of our operating management and was a great promoter of aquaculture, always working with diligence and spirit to promote our work. We extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends.”

No cause of death was given by either firm.

A native of the U.S. state of California, Pedersen arrived in Ensenada in the early 1990s, according to Earth Ocean Farm. In 2012, Pedersen teamed up with Rex Ito to purchase a bankrupt tuna farm and convert it into a striped bass farm. Investors Omar Alfi and Daniel Farag bought a majority share in the company in 2013 and sold it to Butterfly Equity in January 2018. Former Mowi executive Per-Roar Gjerde was hired as the company's CEO in June 2021.

“We worked from the market backwards,” Ito told SeafoodSource in 2017. “We knew striped bass was a staple on the East Coast and we thought it wouldn’t be too hard to build up interest in it in California.”

Pacifico Striped Bass is currently sold throughout the U.S. via retailers, restaurants, and direct-to-retail partnerships, and is featured in the menus of numerous Michelin star restaurants across the U.S. and Mexico. The company was named Whole Foods’ Supplier of the Year in 2020, the same year it launched a frozen retail program.  

In 2017, Pedersen moved to the city of La Paz, at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, take over as operating director of Earth Ocean Farms, a company with a social mission of raising local species including huachinango – red snapper –and totoaba, an endangered species highly sought after in Asia for its swim bladder. The company has completed several wild releases of totoaba hatchlings in an effort to augment its population, but has struggled to commercialize the species due to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which prohibits commercial trading of endangered species.

“Today we go ahead, but we will always remember him for being a tireless promoter of this activity in our country and for being a great example of effort, dedication, and results,” the company said in a statement.

Photo courtesy of Pacifico Aquaculture

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