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US fish farmer wins biggest-ever concession off Brazil

Amberjack (seriola rivoliana) being grown in a Forever Oceans enclosure. Photo: Forever Oceans.
Amberjack (seriola rivoliana) being grown in a Forever Oceans enclosure. Photo: Forever Oceans.

United States-based fish farmer Forever Oceans has signed a deal with Brazil for the largest offshore concession ever given for sustainable marine aquaculture, totalling 64,200 hectares.

Forever Oceans will raise seriola rivoliana – known by several names including amberjack, longfin yellowtail and in Brazil as ‘Olho de Boi’ or remeiro – in automated cages in two zones between 4.3-9.3 miles off the coast of the Brazilian state of Bahia.

Together, the zones total an area three and a half times the size of Washington DC.

Forever Oceans’ chief executive Bill Bien, centre left with mask, and Brazil aquaculture and fisheries minister, Jorge Seif Junior, centre right.
Forever Oceans’ chief executive Bill Bien, centre left with mask, and Brazil aquaculture and fisheries minister, Jorge Seif Junior, centre right.

“With a coastline of more than 8,500 km, Brazil is one of the main frontiers for fish production, generating, in addition to healthy food, employment and income,” said the country’s aquaculture and fisheries minister, Jorge Seif Junior.

“This landmark agreement is historic for Brazil and will set the country on the path to the development of sustainable marine aquaculture.”

Space to grow

Forever Oceans’ chief executive Bill Bien said the agreement gave the Virginia-headquartered company the space to scale and grow rapidly, and the opportunity to develop the largest offshore sustainable seafood capability in the world.

“We will bring our different approach to the waters of Brazil, applying our expertise in aquaculture, conservation and innovation to raise delicious and protein-rich fish in deep-ocean waters in a highly environmentally-friendly and sustainable way that’s good for people and the planet,” added Bien in a press release.

Forever Oceans has a research and technology facility in Hawai’i, and farms amberjack in offshore operations in Panama. It is also planning an offshore operation in Indonesia.

24 enclosures

An onshore hatchery in Ilhéus, Bahia, Brazil, will raise fingerlings from eggs for placement in large deep-ocean enclosures, enabling them to swim and grow in a protected and more natural environment. Initially, 24 automated enclosures are planned inside the two ocean zones.

Forever Oceans started as a spin-off of Lockheed Martin’s Mobile Fish Pens line of business, which was founded by Jason Heckathorn, now the company’s chief sustainability officer.