Open Blue sustainability reporting

Open Blue exceeds the highest standards in the mariculture industry, and complies with all regulations and third-party certifications. Every day we look for more ocean-friendly, fish-friendly and human-friendly ways to do business. Our commitment to structured, continuous improvement keeps us at the forefront of our industry.

Parasite monitoring and control

111Ocean Ecosystems and Parasitism

Tropical deep water open oceans are dynamic and full of life, especially plankton. Plankton are small organisms that float or drift in great numbers in bodies of salt and fresh water. Plankton are a primary food source for many animals, and consist of protozoans, algae, cnidarians, tiny crustaceans such as copepods, and many other organisms. Many of these planktonic organisms are marine ectoparasites.

Marine ectoparasites occur naturally on many different species of fish. When ectoparasites encounter marine fish they attach themselves to the skin, fins and/or gills of the fish and feed off the mucous, tissues, or interstitial fluid of the fish.

Deep water, open ocean aquaculture systems are less vulnerable to this type of parasite (and parasites in general) because the open nature of offshore pens interrupts the multi-stage life cycle of these organisms and prevents their accumulation within the system.

Cobia are a relatively hardy species. Like all fish, however, cobia must deal with ectoparasites, and those ectoparasites must be pro-actively managed in order to ensure that the fish are reared in a healthy and humane fashion. In the offshore sites, tracking these ectoparasites is a regular part of our fish care. Parasitic organisms such as Neobenedenia can be found in the sea pens. Neobenedenia, known more colloquially as a “skin fluke”, is an ectoparasite that attaches itself to the skin and eyes of our cobia. Neobenedenia feeds on the skin cells and mucus of the fish. Our veterinarians monitor for Neobenedenia and other ectoparasites on a regular basis.

Our monitoring protocol requires that 5 fish per pen are selected from a percentage of our pens for analysis every week. We count the ectoparasites on the selected fish then we bathe the fish in Hydrogen Peroxide, a safe non-antibiotic method of controlling ectoparasites. Hydrogen Peroxide is an effective treatment for parasites. It breaks down quickly into water and oxygen and does not accumulate in sediment. There is no withdrawal period for the fish following the treatment. Because Hydrogen Peroxide breaks down so quickly and completely it is considered a zero impact method of treating marine fish. Hydrogen Peroxide is listed by the third party certification group, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, as the only parasiticide treatment with a 0 rating for persistence and toxicity in the environment, meaning Hydrogen Peroxide leaves zero toxic residues in the ocean after usage.

As part of our ongoing commitment to nourish current and future generations in harmony with the ocean, and because some of our stakeholders have an interest in understanding this part of our business, we are providing our ectoparasite data for public review. This data will be updated on a regular basis. Please feel free to contact us at [email protected] if you have any questions about this data.

Average number of parasites per fish by week:

2021

Week Average Week Average
1

 No monitoring due to bad

offshore weather conditions

27  3
2

No monitoring due to bad

offshore weather conditions

28  8
3 5 29  2
4 1 30  5
5 1 31  1
6 1 32  5
7 1 33  2
8 1 34  6
9  1 35  6
10  2 36  8
11  2 37

No monitoring due to bad

offshore weather conditions

12  1 38  9
13  1 39  7
14

No monitoring due to bad

offshore weather conditions

40  11
15

 No monitoring due to bad

offshore weather conditions

41  5
16  1 42  7
17  3 43  4
18  2 44  5
19  2 45  
20  1 46  
21  2 47  
22  0 48  
23  1 49  
24  0 50  
25  2 51  
26  1 52  

2020

Week Average Week Average
1 1 27

 No monitoring due to bad

offshore weather conditions

2 3 28

 No monitoring due to bad

offshore weather conditions

3 2 29 2
4

 No monitoring due to bad

offshore weather conditions

30

No monitoring due to bad

offshore weather conditions

5 2 31 1
6 2 32 2
7 2 33 2
8 3 34 7
9 1 35 3
10 3 36 5
11 3 37 7
12 3 38 3
13 2 39 12
14 3 40 3
15 1 41 5
16 2 42 3
17

 No monitoring due to

pandemic restrictions

43 3
18

No monitoring due to

pandemic restrictions

44 1
19

No monitoring due to

pandemic restrictions

45

No monitoring due to bad

offshore weather conditions

20

No monitoring due to

pandemic restrictions

46 2
21 1 47

No monitoring due to bad

offshore weather conditions

22 2 48

No monitoring due to bad

offshore weather conditions

23 1 49

No monitoring due to bad

offshore weather conditions

24 6 50  4
25 4 51

No monitoring due to bad

offshore weather conditions

26

No monitoring due to

pandemic restrictions

52

No monitoring due to bad

offshore weather conditions

 

Predator monitoring

                                   

Life at Sea

Mariculture out in the open ocean comes with some interesting neighbors. Occasionally we see various species of snapper, remora, jacks, small tuna and other pelagic fish congregating around the sea enclosures. The most common sharks we see are whale sharks which are planktivores, meaning they eat tiny plankton in the water. We also see more aggressive sharks like tiger sharks, bull sharks and hammerhead sharks. These species can be dangerous to our divers and to our fish. Because mortalities in our enclosures could be an attractant for these types of sharks, we have maintained strict protocols for removing dead and moribund fish, thus eliminating the motivation for sharks to try and enter the enclosures. Additionally, the containment mesh of our SeaStation pens is made of rigid netting with a tensile strength of 45kN/m that cannot be severed by sharks. This netting was installed in January 2016 in all of our pens, and as a result, shark attacks and the resulting holes are now resolved. We are continually working to increase our understanding of shark populations on the Caribbean coast. As a part of this work we have partnered with MarAlliance, a local environmental group and the University of Panama. Some of our divers have been trained in shark identification and we are building a database to track numbers and different types of sharks in the area. Sharks are a part of life at sea, but we are proving every day that with the right approach, we can all coexist in harmony.

Wild fish research

Wild fish research project

Open Blue produces cobia (Rachycentron canadum) at an offshore farm on the Atlantic coast of Panama. Cobia are a large pelagic fish of circumtropical distribution and are native to the Caribbean and Panama.

Open Blue is committed to maintaining the health of the environment in which we operate. This commitment includes our ongoing work to monitor the health of wild fish populations in the farm area. We are engaged in a multi-phase research project designed to create the knowledge base needed to understand and manage any potential effects of farm activities on wild fish populations. 

As part of this effort, Open Blue has done an extensive literature review to identify fish who are either resident or transitory in the Southern Caribbean region, as well as a separate literature review intended to identify the common diseases and parasites of these wild fish. These literature reviews are continuously updated and inform our current monitoring work, which is focused on sampling wild fish found under/around the Open Blue pens, as well as fish at more distant points on Atlantic Coast of Panama. Wild fish are collected and then subjected to the same pathology exam as fish that come from our pens. The results of these pathology exams (especially the results of screens for several notable fish pathogens) are compared with the results of our farmed fish analyses, giving us valuable insights into both our farm stock and the animals living around our pens. 

Our wild fish sampling work has been ongoing since July of 2017. Since that time we have sampled more than 50 fish captured underneath or in the vicinity of our pens. Additionally, we conduct regular video surveys of the populations of wild fish under our cages, and we have been conducting these surveys since August 2017. We continue to monitor these populations and maintain an extensive database on our results.

Fish containment

Net integrity and fish containment

 

At Open Blue, we work hard to prevent any fish released from our farms. This is an important effort, not only because the safe protection of the farm stock is integral to the viability of our business, but also because of any potential environmental concerns. 

 Today’s Open Blue SeaStation technology is constructed to such a high standard that it is rare for equipment failures to occur. The containment netting of the SeaStation is made of semi-rigid filament mesh netting with a tensile strength of 35kN/m2 that cannot be severed by sharks or collapsed by marine mammals.

 Our divers inspect the integrity of the netting daily and keep a record of any net issues. If an incident occurs, we make an inventory adjustment following the finding of any holes and diver observations.

Once the harvest is completed, we reconcile the harvested fish with potential escapes.

 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________

This report describes the escape of fish from the Open Blue open-ocean aquaculture site located approximately 8 miles offshore of the town of Miramar, Panama, in the Caribbean Sea.

All of the lost fish described in this report are cobia (Rachycentron canadum). Cobia are native to the Caribbean coast of Panama. These fish were not genetically modified in any way and had no unusual health problems or diseases. All of the fish lost in these escapes were sexually immature juveniles. None of the fish discussed in this report were recovered.

In the period from September 2020 to August 2021, we saw a cumulative variation of 2,63% between the number of fish stocked, minus the number of fish harvested, and minus the amount of mortality. This has been reported to the government of Panama.

 

 

 

According to a Great Place to Work, trust is the defining principle of great workplaces — created through management’s credibility, the respect with which employees feel they are treated, and the extent to which employees expect to be treated fairly. Open Blue started measuring our employees’ attitudes about their workplace in 2014 and this has continued resulting in a steady increase in scores.

Open Blue will introduce a new range of premium frozen Cobia products for both food service and retail applications at this year’s Seafood Expo Global. To meet the growing interest for fixed weight and customized portions, Open Blue expanded its production facility with a multi-million dollar investment, enabling at-source portioning and inline freezing. Natural and unglazed, the products are individually quick frozen and vacuumed packed retaining like-fresh color, texture and taste.

Open Blue invests in community projects, such as education (identified as a top priority by the community), and clean drinking water projects (a critical resource lacking in the community). Each year we fund 48 scholarships and assist with bus maintenance to ensure that students have access to education.