Farm Spotlights

American Unagi – Eel Aquaculture in Maine, USA

Responsibly sourced and responsibly raised.

American Unagi is a sustainable eel aquaculture facility located in Maine, producing high quality American eels. At American Unagi, eels are raised in a land-based aquaculture system and fed a high quality diet without the use of hormones or antibiotics. This facility boasts the only farmed eel with a good alternative rating by Seafood Watch.

Traditionally, glass eels from the United States are shipped to Asia to be grown and then are later imported back into the United States. At American Unagi, eels are locally sourced and raised to market size in Maine. The American eel is a species that is managed by the Maine Department of Marine Resources and the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission. Sourcing their eels from this well managed stock, American Unagi is increasing traceability and transparency. Since this is a closed system indoor aquaculture facility, the eels are 100% traceable, with certainty that there are no unknown additives and that the eels produced are true American eels. The full traceability, in conjunction with the sustainable practices, make American Unagi a pioneer in eel aquaculture.

American Unagi is also a woman owned business that is successfully bringing jobs to Maine’s coastal communities. This promotes economic resiliency for Maine coastal communities, as well as supporting a local business. This facility produces unagi that aims to be comparable to Japanese farmed eel. The eels American Unagi is supplying to the market have thin skin, high fat content, and premium texture, flavor, and color. The owners recommend that their eels can be used in a variety of recipes from sushi to sandwiches.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to American Unagi for information and pictures of the facility and product.

TransparentSea – Shrimp Aquaculture in California, USA

TransparentSea is located in Downey, California which resides in central Los Angeles. Here, Pacific whiteleg shrimp are raised and reared to market sizes through recirculating aquaculture systems. Just as the name implies, this culturing process of shrimp is transparent and clear. The president of the farm, Steve Sutton, considers this mission his top priority. Especially during the current seafood crisis the United States faces.

I want consumers to know exactly what and from where their seafood comes from.

Steve Sutton

The United States is consuming more seafood with each passing year. Unfortunately, to meet this demand the country is importing the majority of it. In terms of value, the United States spends more on importing shrimp than any other seafood alternative. This is concerning not only as an economic loss but also for the lack of transparency amidst this importation process. The Food and Agriculture Organization states that, “…[shrimp] have historically been one of the most heavily traded fish products, with the bulk of production taking place in Asia and Latin America and the major markets located in the United State.” Shrimp bears a sullied history of fraud from mislabeling, unsustainable raising methods, forced labor, and sheer lack of transparency.

TransparentSea aims to overcome shrimp’s tainted past. By utilizing safe, sustainable aquaculture methods their shrimp can be raised in the center of Los Angeles, California. These methods include multiple tanks for the various grow out stages of shrimp. The tanks can include biofloc and clear water systems which have years of testing behind them. Driven to change the tide, TransparentSea is supplying a smart seafood option that is sustainable, local, and of superior quality.

For more information, see the videos below to meet Steve, learn more about the farm, and discover the path to sustainable seafood!

Bakkafrost – Atlantic Salmon Aquaculture in the Faroe Islands

Bakkafrost is a widely recognized Atlantic Salmon (Salmo Salar) farm located in the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic.  It is a vertically integrated salmon farming operation which allows for high levels of control from the feed to final product  and allows for streamlined transparency.  This operation has net pens located in strong current fjords in order to ensure minimal eutrophication.   The relatively stable temperature range of the Faroe Islands allows for optimized growth potential of the salmon without the use of additional inputs such as antibiotics, GMO’s, and chemical treatments.  

Bakkafrost being a relatively small salmon farming company differentiates itself from other salmon because its focus is more on quality than quantity.  Bakkafrost had garnered both ASC (80% of harvest from 2019) and Global G.A.P. certifications to ensure quality and sustainability.   The Faroe Islands location allows the salmon to constantly swim against the current which causes the salmon to have more natural musculature.  Additionally, steady growth associated with the narrow temperature range results in a firm meat structure.

Atlantic salmon from this operation is a healthy source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids (1.4 ratio omega-3/omega-6).  This is a direct result of the integrated feed manufacturing that consists of a higher proportion of fishmeal and fish oil that come from approved sustainable fisheries.  Since 2014 the fish oil used in feeds has been cleaned of environmental pollutants such as dioxins and di-PCB’s to prevent any transfer to consumers.  Salmon itself is a highly versatile fish with a primary focus on cooked preparations, however with the quality control from Bakkafrost the salmon can be used in raw preparations if desired.  Bakkafrost itself does sell value added and pre-prepared products.

Blue Ocean Mariculture – Almaco Jack Aquaculture in Hawaii, USA

Blue Ocean Mariculture is an offshore net pen farm located roughly 3 miles off the shore of the Kona Coast and farms Almaco Jack (Serriola rivoliana) and market it as Hawaiian Kamapchi. The operation consists of six pens anchored in approximately 82 feet of water.  Each of the pens house between 100,000 and 130,000 Almaco Jack.  This operation is supported by a hatchery located in the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park near the Kona Airport.  Each fish roughly takes 15 months to reach market size the initial 3 months are spent at the hatchery prior to being transported to the offshore pens.

Kampachi is considered a high-quality eating fish and is a good source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3 fatty acids of seafood have been shown to reduce the risks associated with high cholesterol, heart disease, and high blood pressure.  Although the fish is highly versatile it is generally served in a raw form because of its texture and flavor.  However Blue ocean mariculture recommends a variety of different styles that can please most consumers.  Almaco Jacks are a widespread species making it a menu item around the world, so techniques have been developed spanning different cultures creating a large variety of preparations.

This Kampachi farming operation was recently awarded the Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s certification, making it the first finfish farm in the United States to get the certification.  This certification is based off of a model for environmental sustainability and social responsibility.  Not only is the company held accountable for the environmental protection, but also focuses on ensuring that the company is beneficial to its employees and surrounding communities.  The pens are located in areas of high-water exchange and fish stocking densities are restricted to preserve water quality and benthic health.  The benthic health itself is continually monitored in order to ensure that there is no environmental degradation.  The anchoring systems and moorings are designed to minimize the benthic footprint and prevent wildlife entanglements.