Skip to main content

Dig Imperial Beach

Port of San Diego Launches Four ‘Blue Economy’ Pilot Projects

Jun 29, 2017 07:05PM ● By Paul Spear

The Port of San Diego is entering into agreements for four pilot projects that will assist in the creation, development and scaling of new business ventures on San Diego Bay that focus on aquaculture and blue technology.

The four agreements are the result of a competitive selection process of the Port’s Blue Economy incubator, which was established in 2016 as part of a five year strategic vision to build a Blue Economy portfolio of companies that could deliver multiple social and environmental benefits to the region. The formation of the Port’s Blue Economy incubator directly aligns with the Port’s core mission of promoting commerce, navigation, fisheries and recreation on San Diego Bay and its surrounding tidelands.

The Port’s robust shipbuilding, cruise and cargo business have long established the Port as a Blue Economy champion and catalyst in the San Diego region. The Port’s Blue Economy incubator is a launching pad for new ideas and innovative projects by providing key assets and services such as pilot project facilitation, permit-ready infrastructure, entitlements, market access, and strategic funding.

Authorized by the Board of Port Commissioners on June 20, 2017, the agreements are with San Diego Bay Aquaculture LLC, Red Lion Chem Tech LLCRentUnder AB and Swell Advantage LTD.

“The Port is a long-time champion and catalyst of our water-dependent economy,” said Port Commissioner Marshall Merrifield, one of the City of San Diego’s three representatives on the Board. “The Blue Economy incubator will assist in piloting new technologies and attracting innovative tenants who can deliver multiple benefits to the entire Port community such as fisheries enhancement, ecosystem restoration, water quality improvement, environmental monitoring, and education and outreach.”

San Diego Bay Aquaculture’s agreement is for a five-year pilot project to demonstrate shellfish aquaculture nursery operations and to operate a floating upweller nursery system, also known as a FLUPSY, in San Diego Bay. In this agreement, the Port would invest $351,600 in a FLUPSY, which would be operated by San Diego Bay Aquaculture. The FLUPSY operations would validate whether shellfish nursery operations in San Diego Bay can support a sustainable shellfish aquaculture business.

Red Lion Chem Tech’s agreement is for a one-year pilot project to demonstrate technologies to remove dissolved copper in seawater. The agreement is for $165,000 and would allow Red Lion to conduct a small-scale demonstration of copper mitigation using absorbent media filtration technologies.  Red Lion has conducted lab demonstrations of its technology using water from San Diego Bay with results showing 85 percent efficiency in removing copper.  The pilot project will utilize both passive and active filtration systems to test the efficiency of the proposed technology. 

RentUnder’s agreement is for a two-year demonstration of its technology for in-water boat hull cleaning using a custom-designed Drive-in Boatwash™.  The Drive-in Boatwash consists of driving a vessel less than 53 feet in length into an enclosed basin, which is engineered and equipped to mechanically brush the boat’s hull to reduce copper releases into the Bay. The agreement for $140,000 involves the fabrication and installation of RentUnder’s Drive-in Boatwash, as well as evaluating its performance against water quality standards.

Swell Advantage’s agreement is for a one-year pilot project to refine development of a smart marina software and smart phone app. The agreement for $100,000 is to create a mapping tool to automate and optimize dock management for marinas.

The selection process for the four companies consisted of a competitive review process, which balanced each proposal’s potential social and environmental benefits, alignment with the Port’s core mission and Public Trust obligations, and the potential financial return to the Port.

View on website:

About the Port of San Diego:
The Port of San Diego serves the people of California as a specially created district, balancing multiple uses on 34 miles along San Diego Bay spanning five cities.  Collecting no tax dollars, the Port manages a diverse portfolio to generate revenues that support vital public services and amenities.

The Port champions Maritime, Waterfront Development, Public Safety, Experiences and Environment, all focused on enriching the relationship people and businesses have with our dynamic waterfront.  From cargo and cruise terminals to hotels and restaurants, from marinas to museums, from 22 public parks to countless events, the Port contributes to the region’s prosperity and remarkable way of life on a daily basis.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Dig Imperial Beach's free newsletter to catch every headline