Pioneering Salt Water Aquaculture to Bring the Mediterranean to Waterbury
Milestones to date:
|Farm to Table, Food Safety, Natural Food, Overfishing, Toxic Algae Blooms, Healthy Oceans… Great American Aquaculture (GAA) is addressing these critical issues and capitalizing on emerging global trends. Eric Pedersen, founder of GAA, has built a land-based, high-tech fish farm in Waterbury, taking full advantage of the high quality and abundant water supply that Waterbury has been historically known for.
GAA’s 65,000 square feet facility is the first of its kind to accommodate salt water species. Eric is raising Branzino, a European sea bass popular in high end restaurants. Currently, all the Branzino shipped to the U.S. is from open water fish farms in the Mediterranean that use antibiotics, and is at least 5 days old before it is served in restaurants. GAA’s Branzino will be antibiotic and hormone free, and can go from “farm to table” the same day.
Eric started working with Patty Meagher, Connecticut Small Business Development Center Technology Business Advisor, in the fall of 2013. “This was an enormous project, and it took a lot of patience and perseverance to navigate the fundraising process; I believed in Eric, and knew that he was uniquely qualified to make this innovative facility a reality,” explains Patty.
Many months and investor presentations later, Eric found the right strategic investment partner in the multinational company, Pentair Corporation. Pentair is viewing this project as a prospective showcase for its state-of-the art recirculation technology as a global “Center of Excellence.” Waterbury is perfectly situated geographically to bring executives from around the world to see its products in action.
Patty also helped to bring in Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development to secure tax credits to offset start up and initial construction costs. Construction is slated to be complete in February 2018. Within 5 years and at full production capacity, Eric expects to ship 4,000 metric tons of sea bass and to create 200+ advanced manufacturing jobs.
“Working with Patty has been tremendously helpful in navigating the capital landscape in CT and developing relationships with the government. She has been helpful every step of the way starting over 4 years ago. I have a lot of plans for GAA including aquaponics, more facilities here in Waterbury, and franchising. I have no doubt Patty will help me find the resources to get there,” says Eric.