Mad River Union
HUMBOLDT — As expected, the permit term for Coast Seafoods’ existing aquaculture operation has been extended until Dec. 31, but the company probably will not have to wait that long for the multi-year extension of its revised, narrowed project proposal.
Coastal Commission staff expect to present the revised, much smaller cultivation plan for commission approval at is September meeting.
Responding to the commission’s rejection in June of an ambitious expansion plan spanning 256 acres – on top of the existing 294 acres of oyster and clam harvesting – the company is proposing to shrink its operations instead to 278.6 acres. At the same time, the company would plant four test plots to monitor and evaluate the environmental impacts of its culture methods.
The commission held in June that the original 256 acre expansion proposal would have resulted in “an excessive amount of development” in sensitive marine habitat, particularly eelgrass and Black Brant foraging habitat.
The four new farming areas would cover some 12 acres, while 33.7 acres of existing cultivation would be removed.
With the proposed test plots, Coast Seafoods holds out the prospect of expanded farming in the more distant future.
The text of its pending proposal states in part, “... the intent of the test plots is to monitor and evaluate environmental impacts associated with Coast’s proposed culture methods to inform any future proposal for any additional expansion, which would need to be approved by the Coastal Commission in an amendment to Coast’s Coastal Development Permit.”
All told, the revised request for permit approvals would result in a net reduction of the company’s cultivation footprint of about 21.7 acres.