“What are you doing way out there?” Visitors frequently ask that, as they stand on the coastline in the Bay of La Paz and stare out towards our farm site on the horizon. Our net pens in the Gulf of California are located 4 miles offshore, in waters over 250 feet deep. The location of our net pens is not just a whim. It is a key part of our fundamental philosophy, and an integral part of who we are.
The Kampachi Company is committed to growing our King Kampachi in the most environmentally responsible way that we can. But we also need to scale up our operations, if the aquaculture industry is to increase the supply of healthful marine fish to meet the demands of 9 billion people on the planet.
To scale up in an environmentally responsible way, we must meet the challenge of operating in the offshore ocean environment. In deeper water, further offshore, we can work within the assimilative capacities of the ecosystem. We can grow our fish without any significant ecological impact on water quality, on the substrate (seabed) beneath our net pens, or on other marine fish or wildlife.
There is now abundant scientific evidence that confirms this assertion. Much of this monitoring data was distilled by NOAA scientists and other co-authors, including The Nature Conservancy, into two pivotal studies: Price and Morris (2013), and Rust, et al., (2014). Price and Morris conducted a meta-analysis of monitoring data from water quality and benthic studies around net pens around the world, and concluded that – so long as basic, commonsense siting criteria are adopted – there is no significant impact. Often, there will not even be any measureable impact.
This confirms the findings from independent monitoring of water quality around our King Kampachi net pens in the Gulf of California. There is no discernible difference between the water from upcurrent of the net pens, and the water from downcurrent of the net pens.
The Rust study looked at the potential for broader ecosystem impacts and concluded that so long as basic Best Management Practices are employed, there is no significant impact from net pen operations on wild fish genetics or wild fish stock abundance, on marine mammal populations or other components of marine ecosystems.
The Kampachi Company monitors a wide range of parameters around our farm site, both to meet government requirements, and to ensure that our operations meet the standards for certification by Aquaculture Stewardship Council and Best Aquaculture Practices. We also monitor potential impacts for our own peace of mind — to ensure we are still working within the assimilative capacities of the ecosystem in which we have the privilege of operating.
We believe all forms of aquaculture have a part in producing healthful, nutritious seafood. But we need to find a way to scale up rapidly, so that we produce the marine fish that a growing population craves. To us, that compels us to go further, deeper.