Wednesday, September 28, 2016

NOAA Promoting Offshore Aquaculture for Southern California

Saying that a robust aquaculture industry in the United States would help reduce a seafood trade deficit exceeding $14 billion, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), California Sea Grant, and the Aquarium of the Pacific issued a report yesterday recommending the establishment of finfish aquaculture facilities in the Southern California Bight, which includes the area from Point Conception to San Diego.

The report is the result of two workshops convened in 2015 and 2016 sponsored by NOAA Sea Grant. The key findings from these workshops provide recommendations for growth and expansion of marine aquaculture in the US and address the complex permitting system and the need for continued research and public outreach.

“We are confident that aquaculture can be sited sustainably in the coastal ocean. Our challenge is putting the science to action to identify environmentally suitable locations that avoid conflicts with other users,” said Dr. James Morris, NOAA's National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.

The workshops brought together regulators and scientists to discuss the application of the best available science and incorporating appropriate tools that can inform decision making for the permitting of marine aquaculture in California. The participants represented a cross-section of scientists, regulators, and industry practitioners with expertise in the field of aquaculture and environmental science. State and federal agencies with regulatory responsibilities for permitting aquaculture also participated.

A proposed demonstration project 4.5 miles off San Diego will culture yellowtail jack and possibly white seabass or striped bass in offshore net pens or cages. The production plan extends over eight years, starting with 1,000 metric tons per year and increasing to 5,000 metric tons per year. The harvested product is to be landed along traditional working waterfronts in the region.

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