“Perspectives on Marine Aquaculture in California and the U.S.” is a short film recently produced by the Seafood for the Future program and Long Beach Aquarium and can be viewed here. It features prominent scientists and experts on the topic and discusses aquaculture’s role in the global food supply, the state of domestic marine aquaculture, and its future in the US and California.
“It’s important to put aquaculture into the broader context of food”, says Dr. Steve Gaines, Dean of UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. “It’s easy to focus on the negative impacts of one form of food production in terms of environmental impacts, without recognizing that all forms of food production have some negative impacts.” Dr. Gaines goes on to point out how important it is to look at how all of those food production methods compare to one another. Recent research analysis shows that aquaculture, done well using today’s current best practices, can exert the lowest environmental impacts of any form of food production on the planet.
Translating that advantage of minimal impact into the conversation that revolves around using public waters for aquaculture and the social license that it requires is what puts aquaculture development in California at a crossroads with the demands of a growing population. While protecting marine and inland ecosystems is a strong societal value, restricting development here without regard to the ongoing demand for food simply exports the environmental impacts of our society to somewhere else.
Ms. Christy Walton is co-founder of Cuna del Mar, which has aquaculture farms operating in Mexico, sees the permitting process in the U.S. having a long way to go toward being more efficient and less costly, before businesses can afford to get into domestic marine aquaculture here.
Marine aquaculture will expand globally, and businesses in California and the U.S. will continue to rely on these products in the future. There is great potential to develop that production here in California, using environmentally and economically sustainable methods that exist today and will be improved even further. The challenges and benefits are many and deserve Californians’ best efforts to overcome whatever obstacles exist in moving ahead.