Dick Jones, the CEO of Kona, Hawaii-based open-ocean finfish aquaculture producer Blue Ocean Mariculture, is joining the 11-member board of directors at Northwest Aquaculture Alliance, the advocacy group announced this week.

Jones’ career includes 14 years in the retail supermarket sector, overseeing seafood operations for Whole Foods Market and Texas, U.S.A.-based HEB Grocery. He also has expertise in the nonprofit sector, where he worked with industry, governments, and agencies globally to implement fisheries and aquaculture improvement projects.

According to a release on the appointment, Jones cited the emerging need for food self-sufficiency and food security in the U.S. as a key reason for joining the Northwest Aquaculture Alliance, which he views as a strong voice for all aquaculture.

“One of the lessons learned during the pandemic is that you can’t always count on imports to feed people,” he said. “We have the knowledge, the technology, and the people in this country to be self-sufficient when it comes to the production of aquatic foods. Creating a favorable climate for responsible, sustainable aquaculture is perhaps the most important initiative we can undertake in this country.”

Blue Ocean’s Hawaii operation – which produces almaco jack (seriola rivoliana), branded as Hawaiian kanpachi – is the only fish farm operating in the United States to be certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) as environmentally- and socially-responsible. The firm’s fish are raised in open-ocean pens in the waters near the Big Island of Hawaii, close to Kona. NWAA Board President Jim Parsons said the appointment of Blue Ocean’s Jones will help further the advocacy organization’s reach.

“[This addition to the board is] a strategic and necessary step in expanding our geographic reach as an aquaculture advocacy organization as we collectively call for a more aquaculture-friendly regulatory environment both nationally regionally – including the Northwest region and the Pacific Islands,” Parsons said.

Blue Ocean Mariculture began operation in 2009, and it has grown its facility ever since to cover the entire production of Hawaiian kanpachi. The company operates an onshore hatchery linked to submersible open-ocean pens, where the fish are grown. Jones said he looks forward to tapping into NWAA’s vast aquaculture network.

“We need aquaculture to feed the world into the future,” Jones said. “[The NWAA] plays an important role in promoting the many benefits of responsible aquaculture while providing a platform for networking opportunities in the aquaculture sector.”

Photo courtesy of Blue Ocean Mariculture

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