Ocean Rainforest, Inc. submitted a consistency certification request to temporarily install and operate a demonstration seaweed aquaculture facility on an 86-acre site in federal waters approximately 4.4 nautical miles offshore of Santa Barbara. The facility would consist of a variety of ropes, lines, buoys, and cultivation equipment that would be anchored to the seafloor and held submerged below the ocean surface. The facility would be in place for two years and expects to harvest kelp every 3 to 4 months over the lifespan of the project. At the end of two years, Ocean Rainforest would fully remove the aquaculture facility and all associated anchors, buoys, cultivation lines and kelp. Environmental groups including Defenders of Wildlife requested that the special conditions be modified to ensure the removal plan is complete prior to construction of the operation, rather than prior to completion of the permit as originally stated in the staff recommendation. Those changes were incorporated into the addendum. The staff special conditions also include wildlife entanglement monitoring plan and a letter of credit to ensure funding is available for removal of the operations.
Why You Should Care
The project will allow for important kelp aquaculture research into the potential for carbon sequestration, ecosystem benefits and sustainable food production. Seaweed farming has the potential to mitigate elevated nutrients due to coastal eutrophication in our coastal waters, the lack of real-world farms in the Southern California Bight has hindered scientific progress on quantifying and validating their role in bioremediation and other benefits.
Negative Conservation Vote
This item was approved unanimously with broad support from the scientific community.