California Coastal Commission decision allows Coast Seafoods to continue shellfish farming

After many months of negotiations, a California Coastal Commission decision will allow Coast Seafoods, the largest producer of shellfish in California, to continue shellfish farming in Humboldt Bay through 2025. 

The company is based in Eureka, California, and is one of the largest harvesters of clams and oysters in the United States. Initially, the company had lobbied to expand its operation by 260 acres, but that proposal was denied in June over concerns about the farming’s ecological footprint on the bay and its wildlife, as well as how it might affect fishermen and boaters in the area. 

The commission’s decision wasn’t entirely positive for Coast Seafoods; the company had to accept a downsizing of its cultivation area by 21 acres –from 300 acres down to 279 – and relocate another 42 of the 300 acres in exchange for the extension of the harvesting permit. Although the overall acreage will shrink, the company reported that it would “increase its overall production levels by using cultivation techniques such as baskets on longlines that achieve more production per acre.”

The California branch of the Audubon Society and the California Waterfowl Association were two groups who argued against the proposal, and waterfowl hunters expressed their opposition as well, arguing that the shellfish farming would continue to threaten the habitat of the shorebirds that live in the Humboldt Bay area.

However, some environmental groups like Humboldt Baykeeper were in favor of the proposal, suggesting that because oysters need clean water to thrive, Coast Seafoods’ continued presence could actually contribute to a healthier ecosystem in the bay. 

In response to the commission's decision, Coast Seafoods Southwest Operations Manager Greg Dale said, “It’s always been our objective to propose a farm and a permit that does not harm the ecological foundation of Humboldt Bay. It’s our home. We believe in what we do.”


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