Throughout April, AltaSea hosted its annual Blue + Green lecture series, in which a panel of specialists discussed sustainable aquaculture. This year, the four-part lecture series included discussions on restorative aquaculture, the aquaculture workforce, multi-trophic aquaculture, and offshore aquaculture. The lectures were given in a hybrid format–offering both in-person lectures and livestreams. As always, these lectures were open to the public and free to attend.
The first lecture focused on restorative aquaculture–a term referring to practices that utilize aquaculture as a mechanism for restoring ocean health while creating jobs and feeding communities. This discussion brought together academic researchers as well as the founders of Sunken Seaweed, Kelp Forest Alliance, and Get Inspired. They discussed climate-resilient kelp cultivation and the importance of restoring and protecting kelp ecosystems. Other topics included an ecosystem-minded approach to restoring kelp forests–one that includes cultivating kelp-dwelling species–as well as involving local communities in ocean restoration efforts.
The second part of the lecture series discussed building a sustainable workforce in the emerging blue economy. The discussion centered around the opportunities for the blue economy, particularly sustainable aquaculture, to create jobs in Los Angeles. Particular emphasis was placed on the potential for these jobs to be available to people of all backgrounds and education levels, which would provide economic mobility to individuals from historically underserved communities. The Blue + Green panelists included economic experts, youth program developers, career pathways specialists, and academic researchers. The panelists accentuated strategies for engaging the diverse communities surrounding the Port of Los Angeles in ocean sectors, including community outreach, job-training programs, paid internships, and education-to-employment pathways.
The third session focused on multi-trophic aquaculture–a type of aquaculture in which organisms from different ecosystem levels are farmed together. Panelists included experts from Holdfast Aquaculture and several researchers specializing in sustainable fisheries. Multi-trophic aquaculture increases efficiency and generates ecosystem services as a byproduct of aquaculture. Ecosystem services are the natural processes, such as removing toxins and producing oxygen, that maintain our planet’s health and allow life on earth to exist. By simulating an ecosystem so that ecosystem services automatically occur, multi-trophic aquaculture proves that it is possible for food production to be in alignment with, and benefit, the planet.
The final session centered around offshore aquaculture, and took place as part of an open house at AltaSea. This allowed AltaSea tenant Pacific Mariculture to showcase its work to the local community. Off the coast of San Pedro, Pacific Mariculture is developing the first offshore mussel farm in United States federal waters. The project’s goal is to create a sustainable shellfish farm that can increase food security, create local jobs, and reduce reliance on imported seafood.
Overall, the Blue + Green series showcased that, when sustainable strategies are implemented the aquaculture sector can provide diverse benefits. Sustainable aquaculture simultaneously supports coastal ecosystems and provides economic mobility through well-paid jobs. Globally, the aquaculture industry is projected to grow 5.5% per year over the current decade, with global annual revenue projected to surpass $421 billion by 2030. To fight climate change, protect food stocks, and maintain a healthy ocean, it is imperative that sustainability is at the forefront of the growth of this industry.