Tuesday, March 4, 2014

AltaSea Marine Research Center Appoints CEO

By Mark Edward Nero

AltaSea, a planned marine research center at the Port of Los Angeles, named environmental social entrepreneur and business leader Rachel Etherington its first chief executive officer on March 3.

The AltaSea facility, to be located at the site of a 10-year-old site at the Port of LA, involves about 35 acres of land and water at the port’s City Dock No. 1 site, Berths 56-60 and Berths 70-71.

In addition to the urban marine research center, the campus will house a business incubator and educational facility. It’s being developed through a public-private partnership that includes AltaSea, the Port of Los Angeles and several regional public and private universities.

The planned AltaSea campus is slated to feature circulating seawater labs, classrooms, lecture halls, support facilities, an interpretive center, a facility for marine-related commercial ventures, offices and development of the world’s largest seawater wave tank for studying tsunamis and rogue waves.

“AltaSea is a vision that must be built from the ground up, so we were searching for someone with strong leadership and development experience, business expertise, a global perspective, and most importantly, a passion for the environment and ocean,” Brad Jones, founding partner of Redpoint Ventures and a member of the AltaSea Advisory Committee and its CEO search committee, said. “We found that unique combination of skills and qualities in Rachel Etherington.”

Before officially taking the helm at AltaSea on April 1, Etherington will transition out of her duties as managing director of the BLUE Marine Foundation in the United Kingdom, a global foundation dedicated to ocean protection and preservation through public-private partnerships, public policy and awareness building campaigns.

Prior to her work with the BLUE Marine Foundation, Etherington founded and directed Fauna & Flora International Australia, one of the world’s oldest international conservation organizations.

“AltaSea represents a unique opportunity for a heavily urbanized city like Los Angeles to help lead and solve some of the most pressing global sustainability issues of our time,” Etherington said in a statement.

The entire project cost is estimated at more than $500 million, with completion over a 15- to 20-year timeframe. Funding commitments for Phase 1 of the project currently total $82 million, including $57 million in site-related capital investments by the port and a $25 million gift by the Annenberg Foundation. The first phase is estimated to cost $185 million and be complete in 2019.