US Aquaculture Wrestles with Coronavirus and the Spiraling Economic


Shellfish and finfish farmers struggle with restaurant closures.

All across California, we are hearing the impacts of the Coronavirus on seafood sales. California seafood produced by aquaculture is primary a live market industry to ensure the freshest and highest quality products to consumers. With this economic downturn and lack of sales, our farmers are being forced to lay off significant numbers of staff just to keep afloat.

For fish and some shellfish growers, this puts significant stress on life support systems not just for the employees, but also for the fish. Critical elements of life support systems in aquaculture have farmers concerned over the now uncertainty of feed, oxygen and fuel deliveries. What are the additional costs (eg. labor, feed, energy) to keep fish longer? How does this impact the harvest plan on the farm? What does a farmer do when it is time to spawn fish? Will there be tanks and ponds available when those new fish are ready to be moved out of the hatcheries if the previous stocks have not been moved to market? Will there be enough larval oysters to support our California industry if hatcheries in other states are severely impacted? It is certain the economic ramifications of Coronavirus will likely have long-lasting impacts on all of our food systems.

Aquaculture products supply a significant part of the seafood we eat. Ask your grocer where your seafood originates, and if able, support your California and US seafood industries. Otherwise we will become even more reliant than we already are on other nations to meet our dietary needs.

More Women of Aquaculture

Carrie (left) and Hana (right), trying to smile while getting sunburned.

I attended a function with Whole Foods Market and Tsar Nicoulai Caviar on a beautiful summer afternoon in February. Beside eating our California farmed oysters provided by Pacific Seafood and Tsar Nicoulai award winning smoked sturgeon and caviar (and sturgeon pate’, lettuce, and more award winning smoked sturgeon); I had the opportunity to sit down with Carrie Brownstein, Global Seafood Quality Standards Coordinator for Whole Foods Market and Hana Wilms, Farm Operations Coordinator at Tsar Nicoulai Caviar. We spoke on a number of issues around animal welfare associated with fish husbandry and processing and how both organizations align themselves on this front.

Hana discussing sustainability and animal welfare  initiatives on the farm.
I have trade marked this product as “Sierra to the Sea”: California Oysters and California Caviar. Pacific Seafood brought their oysters and we discussed shucking and oyster farming in Northern California.