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Shellfish Ranch Approved, Jellyfish Operation Set to Harvest

cannonFisheries are making waves in the news as a California agency approves the first shellfish ranch in federal waters and South Carolina’s first jellyfish operation raises environmental concern.

The California Coastal Commission approved the 100-acre underwater plot for the development of Mediterranean mussels in federal waters 9.5 miles offshore from Long Beach, reports The Los Angeles Times.

Operator Catalina Sea Ranch expects the farm to produce around 2.6 million pounds of mussels each year. The company’s business model is in line with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration goals of creating jobs and improving the marine environment by increasing the amount of water-cleaning shellfish in US waters, the paper reports.

Catalina Sea Ranch’s goal is to tap into the growing demand for locally sourced, sustainable food.

The operator says it has taken measures to avoid ship strikes, minimize the amount of marine debris and avoid whale and dolphin entanglement in the farm. Company scientists will also conduct regular testing to check water purity and bacteria levels. The shellfish will be tested for metal and toxicity levels prior to being sold for human consumption.

In South Carolina, Carolina Jelly Balls plans to start harvesting Cannonball jellyfish next month, contingent on approval of the state’s Department of Health & Environmental Control and Beaufort County, reports The Post and Courier.

Some environmental groups have expressed concern that trawling for jellyfish (pictured) could result in the undesirable capture of turtles, a threat to the states oyster population and undesirable smells.

In Georgia, where, when measured by volume, jelly fishing represents the third largest fishery after shrimp and crab, mandated turtle exclusion devices work very well, the paper reports.

Water concerns stem from the chemicals used to process the catch. A large part of any jellyfish catch is water, but fishermen need to bring the water content down to 69 percent prior to shipping. The dehydration is achieved through a process that uses ammonium aluminum sulfate. The highly acidic substance is thought to be the cause of the potentially offensive smells; the chemical’s effects on local water quality is the source of worry for at least one local oyster farmer, the paper reports.

In July last year, Albion Fisheries, Santa Monica Seafood, Seattle Fish Co. and other major seafood companies formed Sea Pact, an industry coalition to advance environmentally sustainable fisheries and aquaculture practices.

The members say they’ll help build a long-term sustainable seafood industry by financially contributing to improve the fishing and fish farming systems from where they source their seafood.

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