Aquaculture Seafood Hub Header

USC Sea Grant is actively invested in supporting aquaculture to help support and maintain sustainable and safe local seafood across the Greater Los Angeles region. Read below to learn about one of our current initiatives in aquaculture, the Pilot Project: Improving equitable access to locally farmed seafood through the South Central Los Angeles Sustainable Seafood Hub.

Project Overview

The Problem:
 Most Americans do not eat enough seafood to receive health benefits. The greatest deficits are among low-income and food-insecure communities. Few assessments of seafood preferences and barriers for low-income/food insecure consumers exist. There is a critical need to identify community-relevant opportunities to improve public health through expanded education and access to seafood and to determine the role of local marine aquaculture industries in supporting these efforts. 

The Solution: USC Sea Grant joined the Southern California-based aquaculture producers Holdfast Aquaculture and Santa Barbara Mariculture, along with the community organization Community Services Unlimited, to develop “The South Central LA Sustainable Seafood Hub”. This Hub aims to ensure equitable access to mussels, an incredibly nutritious and sustainable source of protein. A pilot of the Hub was launched in 2020 to create space for trusted community-based intermediaries to deliver sustainable seafood directly to residents of South Central Los Angeles, a neighborhood impacted by systemic barriers that perpetuate high rates of food insecurity, poverty, and disease risk. 

The Outcomes: Through this pilot project, the partners conducted an exploratory community seafood survey to inform efforts, understand what seafood is currently being consumed, and understand community-identified obstacles to seafood consumption(the most common obstacles are shown to the right). The Hub hosted a live-streamed mussel cooking demonstration and DIY mussel shell fertilizer workshop, distributed flyers, and held a live Q&A session. Next steps include expanding engagement with other L.A.-based community organizations, sustainable seafood producers, and other parts of the seafood supply chain to expand the Hub model to subsidize costs for low-income consumers and build community trust in local sustainable seafood across Los Angeles. 

Project Partners: This pilot was made possible with support from USC Good Neighbors, Holdfast Aquaculture, and USC Sea Grant. 

Horizontal list of the logos of all project partners of the South Central Los Angeles Sustainable Seafood Hub

Outreach and Engagement

As mentioned in the outcomes above, USC Sea Grant and partners are beginning to engage with colleagues, stakeholders, communities, and organizations and will continue to expand engagement and share results as the pilot project continues. Examples of project engagement are provided below:


2023 South Central Sustainable Seafood Festival and Video

In November 2023, USC Sea Grant along with the South Central LA Seafood Hub partners put on a South Central Sustainable Seafood Festival. The team invited seafood producers, local chefs, and community organizations to facilitate cooking demonstrations, speak about harvesting sustainable seafood, and coordinate fun-filled activities for all ages. They provided interactive cooking demonstrations with oysters, seaweed, mussels, and shrimp. Some attendees even got to take mussels recipe kits home to cook in their own kitchens. Visit the South Central LA Sustainable Seafood Hub website to learn more about the hub and the Seafood Festival.


USC Sea Grant also produced a short video about the South Central LA Seafood festival.


2022 National Aquaculture Extension Conference (NAEC)

The NAEC conference is co-sponsored by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) five Regional Aquaculture Centers and the NOAA National Sea Grant Program. Held approximately every five years since 1992, this unique conference has provided a forum for professional development and growth for all levels of experience and years of service in aquaculture extension education.

USC Sea Grant was represented at the meeting by Dr. Amalia Almada; our program’s Science, Research & Policy Specialist focused on sustainable aquaculture. Dr. Almada provided an oral presentation on the SouthLA Seafood Project at the conference and her travel was supported by the Western Regional Aquaculture Center. Dr. Almada engaged with a diverse and passionate group of aquaculture extension agents to educate professionals on the project and to brainstorm how to best expand the Sustainable Seafood Hub within the South Central Los Angeles communities.

Photo of Dr. Almada presenting at the NAEC meeting in Maine.
Photo of Dr. Almada presenting at the NAEC meeting in Maine.

Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center’s (CELC) Aquaculture Education Webinar Series: April 2022

USC Sea Grant’s Dr. Almada presented alongside project partners Heather Fenney (Community Services Unlimited) and Dr. Nathan Churches (Holdfast Aquaculture) about the SouthLA Seafood Project at the April 2022 virtual CELC Aquaculture Education Webinar Series.

Watch a recording of the webinar here.

Title page of the SouthLA Seafood Hub presentation that USC Sea Grant's Dr. Almada presented alongside project partners at the April 2022 virtual CELC Aquaculture Education Webinar Series.


Links to Resources:

  • South Central Los Angeles Seafood Hub
  • Benefits of Growing and Harvesting Local Mussels: Watch this Garden Gateway Virtual Workshop from Community Services Unlimited to learn about the benefits of growing and harvesting local mussels
  • Farming Black MusselsWatch this video to learn how local commercial fisherman Bernard Friedman explains how he farms Santa Barbara’s local Hope Ranch Black Mussels
  • Mussel Seed Process: Watch Holdfast Aquaculture’s video here to view the process of how they seeded the first batch of hatchery mussel lines in the history of Los Angeles (featured on Instagram)

Project Flyer (For downloadable PDF, click here):

Project flyer for the SouthLA Seafood Hub