Pacific Ocean AquaFarms: Environmental Impact Statement

NOAA is undertaking an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Pacific Ocean Aquafarms development of a commercial-scale finfish aquaculture facility.

 

Overview

NOAA is developing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Pacific Ocean AquaFarms (POA) development of a commercial-scale finfish aquaculture facility. The facility will be located in federal waters off the coast of southern California.

Depiction of the general timeline for the permitting and NEPA process for the Pacific Ocean AquaFarms project. Credit: NOAA.
General timeline for the permitting and NEPA process for the Pacific Ocean AquaFarms project. Credit: NOAA.

The proposal will require federal permits and authorizations including applicable permits under Section 402 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbor Act. These permits and authorizations fall under the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers respectively. The EPA and USACE will participate as cooperating agencies for the purposes of the EIS.

In accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the implementing regulations published by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the EIS will evaluate the environmental impacts of the proposed project and issuance of the respective permits.

Depiction of the Pacific Ocean AquaFarms project facility in the location off San Diego, California. Credit: NOAA.
Graphic depicting the Pacific Ocean AquaFarms project in the location off San Diego, California. Credit: NOAA.

Project

The Pacific Ocean AquaFarm's proposed project would consist of construction, operation, and maintenance of an offshore marine finfish aquaculture facility composed of floating near-surface net pens. Of the preliminary project alternatives considered, the proposed action for this project is in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) approximately 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) off the coast of San Diego, California. A preliminary project alternative for consideration is a site approximately 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) offshore southwest of Sunset Beach in Long Beach, California (Long Beach Site Alternative).

California yellowtail (Seriola lalandi) illustration from the NOAA Central Library Historical Fisheries Collection.

California yellowtail (Seriola lalandi) illustration. Credit: NOAA.

Initial production is projected to produce 2.2 million pounds (1,000 metric tons) annually growing up to 11 million pounds (5,000 metric tons) after environmental monitoring confirms that each successive scale of expansion has not resulted in any substantial environmental or space-use impacts. California yellowtail (Seriola dorsalis) would be the initial farmed species. The project would utilize established and tested net pen and mooring technologies that are able to withstand storm and rough sea conditions.

 

Last updated by on October 26, 2020