California yellowtail
A California yellowtail. Courtesy Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute

Several dozens protesters gathered at Ski Beach on Mission Bay Tuesday to protest an experimental fish farm planned for open water off San Diego.

“Offshore finfish farming does not benefit fishing communities, the environment, or healthy food production — the only ones who profit are a handful of corporations. These heavily polluting facilities simply have no place in Southern California,” said Jake Schwartz, of Don’t Cage Our Oceans.

The organization, which is supported by a coalition of environmental groups and traditional fishing companies, was joined by San Diego Coastkeeper, which was an early opponent of the Carlsbad desalination plant.

“An industrial fish farm off the coast of San Diego would be an ecological nightmare,” said Phillip Musegaas, executive director of San Diego Coastkeeper.

Pacific Ocean AquaFarms is seeking federal approval to install submersible net pens approximately 4 nautical miles off the coast of San Diego to raise California yellowtail. The project has the support of Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute.

Proponents of the project say aquaculture is the most sustainable and fastest-growing food production sector in the world and can provide healthy seafood without depleting fish stocks.

“Pacific Ocean AquaFarms is committed to developing a marine seafood farm that will serve as a model for offshore aquaculture — producing healthy food, creating jobs, and supporting working waterfronts — all while vigorously protecting the ocean’s natural resources,” according to the company’s website.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.