Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, January 14, 2016

Contact: Kristen Monsell, (510) 844-7137,

Proposed Fish Farm Near San Diego Could Release Millions of Pounds of Waste Into Ocean 

Largest Fish Farm in Country to Threaten Wildlife, Increase Algal Blooms

OAKLAND, Calif.— A massive commercial fish farm proposed near San Diego — which would be the largest in the United States — would discharge the waste of 11 million pounds of fish directly into the ocean, contributing to toxic algal blooms that are already causing environmental and economic harm in California, including the recent closure of rock and Dungeness crab fisheries. The project would also spur an increase in vessel traffic that would threaten a variety of species that call the waters off San Diego home, including endangered blue whales and leatherback sea turtles.

The Center for Biological Diversity outlined a series of concerns today in a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, which is considering a proposal from Rose Canyon Fisheries, a partnership between Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute and a private equity firm, to construct a massive fish farm 4.5 miles off the coast of San Diego. At full operation the project would produce 5,000 metric tons of finfish each year, making it the largest commercial operation in the country.

“While there’s no doubt we need to address overfishing, factory farms in our oceans are not the answer,” said Kristen Monsell, a Center attorney. “These facilities confine millions of fish and cause massive amounts of pollution that can kill or harm wild fish, birds and marine mammals.” 

Farmed fish often escape, spreading sea lice and other diseases and changing the genetics of wild fish when they interbreed, weakening their natural survival skills. Fish farms don’t even ease the demand for wild fish, since they’re fed large amounts of feed made from wild-caught fish.

The EPA is soliciting comments on the impacts it should address in an environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act that will analyze the potential impacts from the project, including the impact of permitting discharge waste under the Clean Water Act. The Center submitted comments today arguing that the agency must deny the permit because the pollution and other impacts from the project would cause unreasonable degradation of the marine environment.

“The environmental impacts of this proposal could be huge,” Monsell said. “The facility could increase the frequency and severity of toxic algal blooms already plaguing California’s marine life and fisheries. It threatens whales and other marine mammals with injury and death from entanglements and ship strikes. The EPA needs to deny the permit and stop this project.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 990,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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