Byline: Ambrosia Brody
LONG BEACH – Fishermen can look forward to reeling in fish at a new destination all thanks to the planned Catalina Sea Ranch being developed approximately six miles from Huntington Beach.
Labeled the “First Open Ocean Shellfish Ranch in U.S. Federal Waters,” the project looks to help reduce the nation’s $10 billion seafood deficit, according to the website.
“Mussels take about eight months to grow to the harvest size, so before next summer there will be plenty of new habitat to attract fish for recreational fishermen,” said Phil Cruver, co-founder and CEO of the Catalina Sea Ranch who has partnered with the Southern California Marine Institute on Terminal Island and Verizon Wireless on the project.
After three years of planning and receiving the necessary permits and nods of approval from coastal and federal agencies, Catalina Sea Ranch staff will begin seeding the ranch in September and October of this year.
The 100-acre ranch will grow approximately 2.5 million pounds of sustainable mussels, which will serve as food for phytoplankton and lure fish to the area. Located 150 feet below the surface, the site is expected to be covered by mussels in about eight months from the time of their planting.
The offshore ranch will be monitored by independent scientists and research institutions using an automated aquaculture monitoring system developed by Verizon Wireless. The system will allow data to be provided in real time for transparent web-based scientific analysis, according to the website.
Nomad buoy sensors located in the middle of the ranch will collect environmental data and transmit it to a Huntington Beach cellular tower before sending it into the cloud where the information will be available to scientists and stakeholders.
“If there is any impact we can make changes with an adaptive management plan right away if there are any negative impacts,” Cruver said.
Local anglers will enjoy the schools of fish that will be drawn to suspended mussel lines over time.
“There are currently no fish there right now, it just mud flats,” he said. “We believe this will provide a habitat and new destination for recreational fishermen.”
Cruver shared that fishermen will also be invited to come aboard the wet lab aboard the Captain Jack, a vessel dedicated to the ranch. “They will see what species are there and tell us how to improve fishing capabilities for this region,” he said.
For more information on the Catalina Sea Ranch, visit catalinasearanch.com.