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Port of San Diego Approves Pilot Project to Demonstrate a System to Remove Debris from San Diego Bay

Eric Dieters with Zephyr aboard the company’s
custom-made, debris removing vessel. Image courtesy Port of San Diego

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As a leader of the Blue Economy in the San Diego region and as champions for the safekeeping and environmental care of our diverse ecosystems, the Port of San Diego is entering into an agreement with Zephyr Debris Removal LLC for a one-year pilot project to demonstrate a system to remove marine debris from San Diego Bay.

“Zephyr’s project is a great way to kick off the year and fits my 2018 theme, ‘Ocean Optimism,’ which is the belief that we should be incredibly optimistic about the potential of the ocean economy, the Blue Economy, to be our greatest source of opportunity,” said Chairman Rafael Castellanos, Board of Port Commissioners. “Through our Blue Economy Incubator, projects like this support our position as a catalyst of our water-dependent economy while also ensuring San Diego Bay remains a vibrant resource for visitors and residents for generations to come.”

Zephyr’s pilot project is to demonstrate the effectiveness and potential scalability of its custom-made, debris removing vessel in San Diego Bay. The vessel uses skimming technology and is designed to remove marine debris and solve a variety of logistical hurdles including efficient removal of small debris and access to shallow and/or rough water. The Port will contribute $100,000 and provide the use of Port-owned property for vessel docking and debris unloading in exchange for a five percent share of Zephyr’s revenue in connection with their debris removal technology and related equipment and services and other consideration.

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Approved by the Board on January 9, 2018, the agreement with Zephyr is a result of a competitive selection process of the Port’s Blue Economy Incubator, which was established in 2016 to assist in the creation, development and scaling of new water-dependent business ventures. On June 20, 2017, the Board authorized agreements for four incubator pilot projects – a shellfish aquaculture nursery operation, a copper remediation application, a Drive-in Boatwash technology, and a smart marina software application.

With the Port’s 50-year history on San Diego Bay and mutually beneficial relationships along the waterfront, the Port is strategically positioned to build a unique Blue Economy Incubator that supports entrepreneurship, fosters sustainable aquaculture, and helps drive blue tech innovation. Furthermore, the incubator directly aligns with the Port’s core mission of promoting commerce, navigation, fisheries and recreation on San Diego Bay and surrounding tidelands.

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Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is thrilled to call Coronado home and raise her two children here. In her free time enjoys hitting the gym, reading, and walking her dog around the “island.”Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to:


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