Aquaculture Moving In
Off California’s Coast
An LA Waterkeeper Blog
Waterkeeper’s Senior Attorney, Tatiana Gaur, and I recently had the opportunity to attend the California Aquaculture Law Symposium at UCLA
School of Law. The symposium consisted of representatives from state regulatory agencies, industry, and nongovernmental organizations.
The theme of the day for industry representatives was the
United States’ approximately $10 billion seafood trade
deficit. According to industry representatives, this deficit,
along with dwindling fisheries across the world, demands
the United States to develop a stronger domestic aquaculture industry. Regardless of whether the solution to these
issues is in fact aquaculture, it seems that the aquaculture
industry is coming to our shores, one way or another.
For the time being, in California’s state waters, marine
aquaculture for commercial purposes is limited to oysters,
abalone, clams, and mussels. When properly designed,
sited, and managed, aquaculture operations raising these
bivalve species can actually improve water quality by filtering pollutants out of the water.
However, California’s state waters end three nautical miles
offshore, where federal jurisdiction takes over. It is beyond that boundary
south of Long Beach that KZO Sea Farms will be siting its Catalina Sea
Ranch, the first shellfish ranch in federal offshore waters.
The growth of aquaculture will not end with shellfish, though. The next
frontier for California’s offshore waters is finfish. Regulatory agencies,
including the California Coastal Commission, are considering approval
of a new finfish operation in the federal waters off San Diego. The applicant, Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute, seeks to eventually scale up its