AltaSea at Forefront of “Ocean Economy” Jobs Category Designated by LA County Economic Development Corporation – First New Category in 10+ Years

February 28, 2020

AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles is first-of-its-kind campus in Los Angeles County for next great ocean economy companies

AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) co-authored a report that includes the first new category of jobs—the “Ocean Economy”—in Los Angeles in more than a decade. The new job category announcement was made at press conference in Marina del Rey, where Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn joined founders of two local companies which work with AltaSea that depend on our coastline, Blue Robotics and Holdfast Aquaculture, providing concrete examples of how the ocean economy creates jobs in Los Angeles.

“The newly-designated ‘Ocean Economy’ is a strong and growing sector of our economy in LA County,” said LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn. “Over the next decade we’re going to see more jobs at our ports, in aquaculture, in ocean exploration, and in ocean technology we haven’t even thought of yet. AltaSea aims to be home to the next generation of entrepreneurs creating new ocean economy businesses and developing new technology to fight climate change and they are well-positioned to achieve that.”

Los Angeles to the forefront of the increasingly crucial ocean, or “blue” economy—which the World Bank defines as the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.” According to the report, the ocean economy will produce more than 126,000 jobs paying a combined $37.7 billion in wages by 2023.

“Owing to its location in one of the largest coastal cities in the world, AltaSea will advance the scientific community’s understanding of the ocean and its interaction with people and businesses in a unique way,” said Tim McOsker, CEO of AltaSea. “Our Board of Trustees, donors, staff and the great San Pedro community have embraced our transformative vision for LA’s waterfront. Together, we will leverage every opportunity that the emerging  Blue Economy has to offer.”

The impact of climate change in Los Angeles has been made starkly clear: Three of the five largest fires in Los Angeles County history have occurred since 2007, and sea levels in Santa Monica have been rising by 0.06 inches a year. But by investing in the blue economy, Los Angeles has the opportunity to be a leader in making measurable impacts to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Even conservative estimates indicate that the value of the blue economy will double over the next decade, with a projected global value of $3 trillion by 2030. And across the world, municipal and national entities are investing in the sustainable development of their own blue economies and reaping significant economic and ecological rewards, as several case studies in the report show.

Chapter 5, “Ocean Economy Case Studies,” and Chapter 6, “Impact of Climate Change on the Ocean Economy in Los Angeles County” of the report were based on AltaSea research. The case studies they included show how investing in the sustainable ocean economy can make a real impact.

For example, Indonesia banned trawling, a highly destructive form of fishing that involves scraping the seabed, and has made significant inroads in aquaculture, creating a sustainable workforce and avoiding overfishing. Massachusetts is focusing on marine technology, using its world renowned institutes of higher education to pursue innovations in areas like marine renewable energy. While these places certainly have areas they can improve upon—and the report includes several recommendations for each of them—it is clear the ocean economy will be a driving force for economic growth around the world.

The two companies presenting at the press conference provide a glimpse of what Los Angeles’ ocean economy companies of the future look like. Both rely on Los Angeles County’s coastline and are addressing climate change in novel ways, from remotely operated vehicles that can distribute baby corals on threatened reefs, to mussel seed that can provide a sustainable, local food source from years to come.

  • Blue Robotics has developed the first professional-quality underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROVs) at a price point that’s accessible to all users, not just giant oil and gas companies. Raising its initial funding with a 2014 Kickstarter campaign, the company has since sold more than 45,000 thrusters, which propel ROVs and other vehicles through seawater. The company’s flagship product, the BlueROV2, can shoot HD video underwater and is easily maneuverable with an Xbox controller, helping ocean-based companies explore the seas with minimal impact to the environment. Blue Robotics currently tests its ROVs and other products at AltaSea, which provides a rare secure, quiet place to access the water.
  • Holdfast Aquaculture produces top-quality seed for bivalves, including mussels, clams, oysters, and seaweeds, which act as nature’s own filtration systems, keeping our oceans clean and providing a healthy, local and scalable source of food. Just one mussel can filter more than 50 gallons of seawater a day. Holdfast’s products promote sustainable aquaculture, and tap into a growing market for these superfoods. The company is eager to return to AltaSea once the facility is complete, as it provides easy access to an unobstructed ocean environment to foster the growth of these important aquaculture products.

The addition of this new category is a rare step for the LAEDC, and will enable the Ocean Economy to be formally monitored, benchmarked and tracked going forward; similar to how the LAEDC treats other major Southern California industries like aerospace and digital media entertainment.

Philanthropist Richard Lundquist, who along with his wife, Melanie, donated $5 million to AltaSea late last year to advance ocean sustainability programs, also attended the press conference. As reflected in The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s February cover story, the Lundquist’s focus on AltaSea reflects a growing interest by philanthropists in now working to address climate change.

About AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles

AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles is creating a world-class ocean-based campus where science, business and education come together to generate innovative solutions to the most critical global sustainability issues today: food, energy, and climate security. AltaSea accelerates scientific collaboration, facilitates job creation, and inspires the next generation for a more sustainable ocean. Built on a historic pier with access to the deep ocean, AltaSea’s campus brings people together to expand science-based understanding of the ocean; incubate and sustain ocean-related business; and pioneer new ocean-related education programs. For more information on AltaSea, please see our website:

About Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation

Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) was founded in 1981 as a nonprofit, public-benefit organization to harness the power of private sector in collaboration with L.A. County, to guide economic development and create more widely shared prosperity. LAEDC collaborates with all stakeholders in the region including education, business, and government.


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