A Sea of Change Lies in Blue Tech with Carlsbad Aquafarm

April 17, 2023

You’ve heard of green tech, but in coastal communities like Carlsbad, sustainable businesses cover both land and ocean. Blue tech, an industry that encompasses the companies both improving the ocean’s health and harnessing its natural resources to improve our health, is a growing sector in Carlsbad’s community of innovation and sustainability. In fact, Carlsbad is home to exceptionally inventive companies who are making waves in blue tech. As part of Carlsbad Life in Action’s new Blue Tech series, we spoke with Thomas Grimm, CEO of Carlsbad Aquafarm, a shellfish farm and research facility.

Aquafarm is Southern California’s only shellfish farm

Farming nutrient-rich, local, and sustainable shellfish, Carlsbad Aquafarm is more than just an oyster farm. It is pioneering product development that conserves the ocean’s resources and offsets our dependency on over-tapped land resources. Finding innovative ways to use ocean ingredients for traditional agriculture, Grimm and his team work on numerous product development projects, including using C02 emissions to produce food sources for animals. The animal health market is expected to reach $43 billion in five years, millions of which is spent on poultry feed additives. The demand for chicken feed additives is not only costly, but places an enormous strain on the health of wheat, soybean, and corn crops. Grimm’s team of blue tech engineers and bioscientists uses the C02 emissions from power plants to feed algae, a nutritious and affordable food source for chickens.

“Carlsbad plays a very important role regionally and nationally, both in terms of ecological health and restoration of estuaries and lagoons and coastal waters,” said Grimm. “Many coastal cities are only now investing in aquaculture, but Carlsbad has been on the forefront of harnessing marine resources sustainably for several years.”

Aquafarm provides exceptionally high quality shellfish for consumers, and breeds shellfish to be stronger against diseases

Grimm shares that companies like the Aquafarm thrive in Carlsbad because of the City’s culture of health & wellness. From sustainable agriculture to annual marathons, the City’s commitment to health and wellness creates an ecosystem that not only makes the City a great place to live, but opens the door for collaboration between like-minded companies.

“Because we have a high concentration of biotechnology companies, the blue economy that is developing here is paving way to incredibly novel solutions for waste streams, wind energy, and more,” shared Grimm, referencing the history of innovation within our economy. 

The potential for blue tech will only continue to grow in Carlsbad, as San Diego County continues to invest in maritime technology. Through partnerships with local universities and government agencies, blue tech companies have the support for cutting-edge research and product development, especially in Carlsbad. Grimm and his team recently received a grant from the City of Carlsbad’s Agricultural Mitigation Fund, which is helping Aquafarm develop a variety of oyster, reef, and eelgrass beds that improve water quality. 

“Carlsbad is at the center of biotechnology, life science, and clean tech, creating a hub of innovation that can be found anywhere, even our oceans,” said Matt Sanford, Economic Development Manager for the City of Carlsbad. “Blue tech plays a critical role in evolving the roles we play as global citizens who must responsibly use the earth’s resources, and Carlsbad Aquafarm is a great example of a company who is doing it the right way.”

Residents and visitors can see the Aquafarm’s innovation in action by booking a farm tour, where you learn about the ins and outs of shellfish farming and get a taste of Carlsbad Aquafarms’ fresh oysters. Stay tuned for our next Blue Tech story by subscribing to the Carlsbad Life in Action newsletter here