Aquaculture for all

Merger Spawns Biggest Open Ocean Aqua Operation


PANAMA - Open Blue Sea Farms has acquired Pristine Oceans of Panama to create the world's largest open ocean aquaculture operation, adding to its own cobia business in Panama. The first harvest of free-range cobia are due in December 2009.

Open Blue Sea Farms, the leading practitioner of sustainable open ocean aquaculture, announced today an agreement to acquire the major assets of Pristine Oceans, forming the world's largest open ocean aquaculture operation by year-end.

Since 1 August 2009, Open Blue has managed Pristine. It will consolidate assets into its own ocean sites. Both firms farm cobia (Rachycentron canadum) in Panama because of the fish's rapid growth rate, nutrition, rare taste and texture. Of the 43,000 stocked cobia, 10,000 are destined for the gourmet seafood market between December and April. Open Blue seeks an investment of $7 million for further growth.

Most Pristine Oceans' employees have been retained. In their new capacities, Pristine's president, Jose Raul Arias, and general manager, Richard Pretto Jr., will keep their titles.

"Our mission is healthy, great tasting seafood and protecting oceans," said Open Blue CEO, Brian O'Hanlon. "Joining our vision and expertise with Pristine's inventory of fish and personnel is a major step."

Open Blue's 'free-range fish farming' combines the efficiencies of submerged nets with high growth, native fish species to decrease disease risk and cultivate a superior dining product.

Dale Sims, Chief Fishmonger at CleanFish, who sources and promotes top quality seafood that is safe and sustainable commented: "Brian O'Hanlon really knows how to raise cobia and this acquisition will accelerate Open Blue's growth. We look forward to seeing more Open Blue cobia in the market."

Jim Gossen, president and CEO of Louisiana Foods Global Seafood Source, one of the largest seafood distributors in Texas, said: "Having sold previous cobia raised by Brian O'Hanlon, I am excited about distributing Open Blue. Its sustainable seafood is perfect for our premium restaurants and retailers."

Mr Arias said: "The combination of Pristine assets and team with Open Blue’s proven business creates a modern fish farming leader in the Western Hemisphere."

Pristine Oceans S.A. was founded by Panamanian investors with personnel who have built a highly competent ocean farming team and a potentially valuable stock of cobia.

Open Blue Sea Farms pioneered environmentally sustainable 'free-range' open ocean aquaculture that is profitable and scalable. The method results from a decade of research pilot projects in Puerto Rico alongside leading academics. It produces sashimi-quality fish that is high in protein, rich in omega-3 and mercury free. Widespread sales to top distributors and restaurants in the US will continue, as partnerships with non-profit organisations will give seafood to under-nourished communities.