On this ‪#‎WorldOceansDay‬, we’re reporting from Monterey Bay, California where we’re focusing on aquaculture. That’s because almost 50% of the fish we consume is farmed and more and more people around the world are working to make sure it’s sustainable.

Aquaculture has great potential to contribute to food security, nutrition, livelihoods and economic growth. But if the industry’s growth is at the expense of ocean health and conservation, then developing countries will not harvest long term social and economic benefits.

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We’re visiting the Monterey Abalone Company, a sustainable sea farm literally under the commercial wharf in Monterey Bay. Giant cages of abalone (marine snails) are hanging 10-15 feet under the wharf as little rockfish and occasional sea otters buzz around. 

Here, farmers raise California red abalone, feeding them kelp they harvest from the ocean. At $24 a pound, they sell 80% of the abalone directly to high-profile restaurants in the area. 

Just fifteen minutes drive from this sea farm, we come to Carmel and meet up with Executive Chef Justin Cogley of the award winning restaurant Aubergine. Cogley says he serves this sustainably harvested abalone every night, “We will pop the abalone out, clean the liver (which we save for the sauce), and put together a dish that includes local seaweed and the abalone sous vide, pounded and cooked.”

Cogley garnishes his dish with sustainable seaweed and serves it with a side of tea, a sauce made from the abalone liver and seaweed.

Marine Biologist Andrew Kim says he grew up eating kelp, “Central California is a biodiverse hotspot for countless species of seaweed or algae. Kelp is the one that’s most magical. It’s an amazing resource that grows all along the coast of California.”

Locals find all kinds of original ways to use kelp – including for a clam bake! Trevor Fay of Monterey Abalone Company explains: “Start with a half wine barrel, add hot rocks, add a layer of wet cheese cloth, then a layer of fresh kelp, then a layer of food, repeat process till the barrel is full, cap with a lid, let steam till cooked. The cooked kelp really adds a splash of the ocean to the flavor of the food.” (Photos by Jen Bolding)

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The Monterey Abalone Company website has tons of recipes for abalone including this one for abalone avocado:

2 small cans green chili peppers
500g mozzarella cheese
500g tenderized abalone steaks, 0.5cm thick
1 beaten egg
1 whole avocado
1/2 cup crackers or bread crumbs

Dip steaks in beaten egg, then shake in a bag with the crumbs. Finely slice the peppers, cheese and avocado. Lay ingredients on abalone steak, roll the steak tightly and secure with a wooden toothpick. Bake in uncovered casserole dish 15 minutes at 175ºC.

Martin Guo and Amanda Fay of the Monterey Abalone Company aquaculture farm.
Martin Guo and Amanda Fay of the Monterey Abalone Company aquaculture farm.

Graduate student Martin Guo of Moss Landing Marine Labs is studying invertebrate zoology. Guo tells us more about how to prepare kelp: “Clean it, Put it in the oven at medium high for 15 minutes and add your own seasoning. After they dry it will be salty so don’t add too much salt.”

As the aquaculture industry expands, it’s more important than ever to ensure that farming in the ocean is sustainable. That’s why in February 2016, the Australian Government, the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation X Labs, and SecondMuse launched the Blue Economy Challenge, a call for sustainable innovations in aquaculture to contribute to global food security.

We know that technological innovation alone will not make our oceans healthier. We need a culture shift towards environmentally friendly sources of protein. Our goal is to broaden the number of products from our oceans so that the world’s growing population will continue to have reliable and sustainable sources of food. Find out more about the Blue Economy Challenge hereYou have until June 30th to share your innovative ideas to re-engineer aquaculture and make our oceans healthier. Use #BlueRevolution on social media to share your stories and engage in conversations about healthy oceans!

 

 

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