WINNER, Seafood Champion Awards for Vision

Open Blue’s vision is to feed current and future generations in harmony with the ocean. Driven by a core belief that when we look after the health of the ocean and our fish, we provide better food for humans, Open Blue was founded in 2007, in response to challenges for aquaculture operations located in near shore conditions. In partnership with the world’s leading scientific laboratories, universities and our technology partner InnovaSea, Open Blue has pioneered research and new technology to develop scalable solutions in offshore operations. We believe the future of sustainable aquaculture is in the open ocean. Open Blue’s Cobia are carefully cultivated in the deep, open waters of the Caribbean Sea twelve kilometers off the coast of Panama in proprietary SeaStations™ fully submerged at depths of up to 100 feet. Vertically integrated from egg to plate, Open Blue Cobia has achieved Global Gap, 4 Star BAP, Friend of the Sea certifications and has recently completed the Aquaculture Stewardship Council audit, becoming in January 2018, the world’s first ASC certified Cobia operation. Based in Panama City and with offices in Miami, Los Angeles, Nova Scotia and throughout Europe, Open Blue is dedicated to making a difference in the communities within which it works.

Overview

For over a decade, Open Blue has been systematically revolutionizing the mariculture industry by moving it into the open ocean, far away from sensitive near shore ecosystems. We believe the future of sustainable aquaculture is in the open ocean. Our native, warm-water Cobia fish are raised eight miles off the Caribbean coastline in stress-free, low-density, fully submerged pens, and swim in high-energy currents – never seeing the same water twice. Careful siting ensures farms are located in areas of the ocean with suitable benthic conditions and minimal existing habitat. This way other marine life is not displaced because of the farm operations. Corroborated by third party analysis, Open Blue Cobia has achieved Global Gap, 4 Star BAP, Friend of the Sea certifications and has recently completed the Aquaculture Stewardship Council audit, becoming in January 2018, the world’s first ASC certified Cobia operation.

How well does this nominee and his or her work demonstrate the qualities of the category?  

Open Blue’s vision is to feed current and future generations in harmony with the ocean. They are driven by a core belief that when we look after the health of the ocean and our fish, we provide better food for humans. Founded in 2007, in response to challenges for aquaculture operations located in near shore conditions, and in partnership with the world’s leading scientific laboratories, universities and technology partner InnovaSea, Open Blue has pioneered research and new technology to develop scalable solutions in offshore operations.   At Open Blue, sustainability is woven into every aspect of their operations. It is their prime business driver, built on a commitment to the “Seventh Generation Principle,” an ancient Iroquois philosophy that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world, seven generations into the future. Open Blue tracks their progress using a three-pillared approach – environmental stewardship, full accountability and social responsibility.

In what ways has this nominee positively affected, or mitigated negative impacts of, the seafood industry?

The goal at Open Blue is to transform how the world grows protein. They believe open ocean mariculture – done correctly – is the answer. By moving farms out into the open ocean, they are moving fish into large water masses and stable environments. Through proper site, technology and species selection they provide the fish with a superior growing environment. Open Blue is tracking, resolving and reporting on the challenges typically associated with aquaculture including water quality, fish density, GMO feed, parasites and freshwater use. Highlights include: 

  • 100% non-GMO diet 
  • 100% sourcing of fish meal and oil from non-IUCN Red list of Threatened Species fisheries 
  • 100% traceability through the lifecycle of the fish through full vertical integration from egg to plate 
  • Benthic seafloor monitoring shows minimal and manageable impact to the seafloor 
  • Open Blue cobia is super high in Omega-3 and is free from contaminants, hormones, colorants and mercury.

In what way do you feel this nominee’s story could inspire others and communicate successes achieved in sustainable seafood?  

Open Blue is a seafood company seeking to do things the right way.  A single 4 oz. serving of Open Blue Cobia naturally provides 2500 mg of Omega 3. Independent studies show that oily fish is vital to a healthy diet and that a 3 oz. serving of oily fish 1-2 times per week, can reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by 36%. The company is also dedicated to building strong communities for their workforce – education and health are main priorities. Each year, Open Blue funds scholarships to ensure students have access to schools in remote locations in rural Panama. Open Blue seeks to inform, educate and inspire consumers in a new, socially responsible model for seafood production.

How would the work serve as a replicable model for others who want to have a similar impact?  

With 80% of the worlds’ fisheries nearing collapse, offshore aquaculture can help reverse the trend by shifting demand from wild fisheries and conventional fisheries to farming in the open ocean. Removed from sensitive inshore and inland areas, the open ocean environment offers pristine conditions and vast potential for new/emerging fish species and for the development of premium and environmentally friendly seafood products. In collaboration with the world’s leading scientific laboratories and universities, Open Blue has worked with researchers and scientists to review, understand and develop scalable solutions that would serve as a replicable model for others. Valuable insights include:   

  • Offshore technology suitable for deep water, open ocean aquaculture 
  • Technological solutions for submersible feeding, inspection and cleaning
  • Farm location siting and requirements 
  • Species selection 
  • Broodstock selection 
  • Environmental monitoring  
  • Fish health management 
  • Fish diets, optimal formulation at different stages of growth
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