Are the Santa Barbara Channel and aquaculture incompatible?

A group of Santa Barbara fishermen and citizens gathered against a federal directive that could open local waters for up to eight commercial fish farms in the Channel.


Share this article

A small group of activists organized a protest over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) proposal for a fish farm in the Santa Barbara Channel. It joins recent protests in San Diego towards the implementation of aquaculture projects in California.

A few days ago, a group of Santa Barbara fishermen and concerned citizens gathered against the federal directive that would open local waters for up to eight commercial fish farms in the Santa Barbara Channel. As reported by the local newspaper, Noozhawk, the city wonders about the impact on the marine environment and also on the livelihoods of current fishermen.

- Advertisement -

Testimonies reported by the local newspaper pointed out that there were doubts and different opinions.

For instance, Davis, a member of the Sierra Club -an environmental-protection association- told Noozhawk that they are not against aquaculture. He explained that shellfish and seaweed farming, for example, is not harmful to the environment. Nevertheless, offshore farming in coastal waters he considered is largely problematic.

On the other hand, chef Jeremy Alben of Pinyon Ojai also told the local press about fishermen’s concerns that it has no comparison with commercial fish farms. So, they were simply different products.

Beyond the protest

The group Don’t Cage Our Oceans submitted a petition to NOAA’s Administration Building regarding an executive order on promoting the competitiveness and growth of U.S. seafood (E.O. 13921). Their request to the Biden Administration is to revoke this order, which comes from the Trump Administration.

Community members called on NOAA to protect the Santa Barbara Channel, as well as support local fishermen by collecting signatures. Moreover, different against-aquaculture groups filed an open letter to the White House calling for the E.O. to be revoked.

- Advertisement -

The open letter also calls for further action on the Keep Finfish Free Act. A project that focuses on recirculating farms and low-input bivalve or seaweed mariculture that can benefit local communities.

Revoke Executive Order 13921

After the implementation of the Executive Order, Southern California was selected as one of the first two regions to identify one or more Aquaculture Opportunity Areas (AOAs).

This order was created under the Trump Administration and shortens the regulatory process for offshore industrial facilities in federal waters. The purpose was to promote U.S. seafood competitiveness and create facilities for the development of domestic commercial aquaculture. Nevertheless, the E.O. stated that “consistent with the maintenance and conservation of marine resources and applicable laws, regulations, and policies.

- Advertisement -

Similar articles


Hot stories


Share this article


You have of 3 free articles remaining.

Stay informed with your WeAreAquaculture membership. News, insight, exclusive interviews, analysis and members-only content. Subscribe for unlimited access.