Ventura Shellfish Enterprise plans model permitting strategy for new growers and re-vitalization of Port

MUSSEL UP | Ventura Harbor concept could become aquaculture blueprint for California and beyond

Quoting a recent article in the Ventura County Reporter by Chris O’Neal, “…when a group of entrepreneurial, scientifically minded individuals comes together for a project, big ideas can emerge. Such is the case of the Ventura Shellfish Enterprise — a proposed multiparty project that would allow for (20) 100-acre plots for growing mussels in state waters within the Santa Barbara Channel near Ventura Harbor.”

Funded by a $300,000 grant from the NOAA Sea Grant Extension and Technology Transfer program awarded through California Sea Grant to the Ventura Port District, and “…matched through the volunteered time and expertise of a slew of experts in aquaculture and permitting, the Enterprise is currently readying the creation of a strategic permitting plan, submitting permit applications and information in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, accreditation of a testing and monitoring laboratory at the Ventura Harbor, and implementation of an outreach program.”

Particularly innovative with this project, is the collective effort by the Ventura Port and the Shellfish Enterprise to obtain the leases, permits, and other entitlements on behalf of smaller growers and mariners who might not otherwise have the money and resources to invest in what it now takes to individually get started in shellfish aquaculture.

With the offshore location broadly identified having close proximity to an established fishing port, and once the permitting challenges are addressed, the project holds a unique opportunity to attract commercial fishermen to an alternative crop, requiring only a modest investment in new gear and expertise, while enabling them to maintain a mariner’s lifestyle at sea.

It also bodes well for the re-vitalization of Ventura’s working waterfront and the sustainable production of local seafood, lowering the state’s reliance on imports.

The first of eight public workshops will take place on Thursday, Feb. 16, and be titled “Introduction to Shellfish Aquaculture and the Ventura Shellfish Enterprise.” The workshop will be held at the Channel Islands National Park Visitors Center, 1901 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, 7-8:30 p.m. For more information and a complete schedule, visit