Thanks for covering the good and the bad of aquaculture, but let’s not conflate the two.

Good aquaculture — like the local, sustainable, shellfish farming demonstrated by Santa Barbara Mariculture and Holdfast Aquaculture — doesn’t require feed or chemicals, improves water quality, and is mostly located close to shore in state waters.

Bad aquaculture is typified by industrial fish farms in giant net pens in the open ocean awash in fish feed, waste, antibiotics, and pesticides. These pollute the ocean, entangle whales, introduce non-native species and diseases to the marine environment, and are net negative as a food source because they require large amounts of wild-caught fish to create the concentrated feed used. They are mostly located in federal waters further from shore where they take up space in the open ocean.

If we don’t resist, the bad kind may be coming to our region thanks to a Trump-era Executive Order to accelerate fish farm leasing and permitting that has the Santa Barbara Channel firmly in the bullseye.

Biden should reverse Trump’s executive order, and our state and federal legislators should put rules in place to encourage good aquaculture and discourage the bad.

For anyone who wants to learn more about aquaculture, The Footprint of Farmed Seafood is helpful. 

Here is the concerning proposal that implies potentially concentrated industrial operations in the channel.

Katie Davis is the chair of the Sierra Club Santa Barbara-Ventura Chapter.


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