About the Aquaculture Feasibility Study

The Aquaculture Feasibility Study is a proof-of-concept analysis to determine whether Pacific oysters, red abalone, purple sea urchin, dulse, and bull kelp grow in Noyo Harbor. The study also incorporates a water quality analysis and considers future climate impacts on potential aquaculture operations.

We’re excited to partner with the Noyo Center for Marine Science to set up and maintain in-water and land-based aquaculture sites at the Noyo Center Marine Field Station for the next two years. Together, we will monitor species for health, growth, and survival; collect data on water quality throughout the harbor; and plan educational outreach events.

The results of this study will be coupled with information on regional restoration and commercial opportunities to determine which types of aquaculture operations are environmentally, economically, and socially feasible for Noyo Harbor and this region.

Why these species?

The Aquaculture Feasibility Study includes marine invertebrates and algae, specifically:

  • Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas),
  • Red Abalone (Haliotis rufescens),
  • Purple Sea Urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus),
  • Dulse (Palmaria palmata), and
  • Bull Kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana).

We’ve selected these five species for either their ecosystem restoration benefits or commercial value (or both!).

The Mendocino coast has lost over 95% of its kelp forests due to the compounded effects of warm water conditions and sea star wasting disease. Sunflower sea stars are the main predator of purple sea urchin in our region, and their decline has led to a boom in purple urchin populations. Purple urchins graze on kelp and are outcompeting all other species for what little kelp remains. The result is an ecosystem shift from kelp forests to urchin barrens and the closure of culturally significant and economically important fisheries, including the red abalone and red urchin fisheries. Therefore, working with commercial urchin divers to remove purple urchin from the seafloor and growing them to market size through aquaculture will serve both conservation and, with the continued development of markets, commercial purposes. Similarly, culturing seaweed and red abalone will have important restoration and commercial benefits for our region. Lastly, oysters hold high economic value, so successful production has the potential to bring additional revenue to the area.

Visit our ‘Learn’ tab to learn more about aquaculture and regional blue economy initiatives.

Water Quality Analysis

One of our objectives is to examine water quality for compatibility with species production. To do this, we are measuring water quality at four locations in the harbor. At the Noyo Center Marine Field Station, we are working with LakeTech and Aquatic Resources Management, who have installed and will continuously service two In-Situ Aqua Troll 500 Multiparameter sondes, to ensure reliable and consistent data collection. At this location, we are conducting an in-depth analysis of temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, pH, chlorophyll-a, and depth.

We have also purchased three additional Aqua Troll 500 Multiparameter sondes that will be distributed throughout the harbor to gather a larger breath of information about water quality at potential, future aquaculture sites. At these locations, we are measuring temperature, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen. This equipment will be managed by the Planning Team and the Noyo Center for Marine Science, and we hope this will be an opportunity for us to learn together as a community through hands-on experience. If you are interested in the Aquaculture Feasibility Study and water quality analysis, please contact us for more information about how to get involved.

All water quality data will be made publicly available and can be viewed on our website (coming soon!).