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 seaweed, and bull kelp grow in Noyo Harbor. The study 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

As part of the Aquaculture Feasibility Study, we are examining water quality for compatibility with species health, growth, and survival at four locations in the harbor. Sensors have been dispersed throughout the harbor to provide a large breadth of information.

At three of the four locations, we have installed AquaTroll 500 Multiparameter Sondes, manufactured by In-Situ, that measure temperature, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen. All three sensors are fixed near the seafloor. This equipment is managed by the Planning Team and Noyo Center for Marine Science, and we aim for this to be an opportunity to learn together as a community through hands-on experience. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact us for more information.

At the Noyo Center Marine Field Station, we are working with LakeTech and Aquatic Resources Management to monitor and service two AquaTroll 500 Multiparameter Sondes to ensure reliable and consistent data collection. One sensor floats at the surface, while the second sensor is fixed one meter above the seafloor to analyze the selected environmental parameters at different depths. The top sensor measures temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, pH, and chlorophyll-a. The bottom sensor measures temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and pressure.

All sensors collect real-time data every hour that is uploaded to our website every four hours via telemetry software. Below is a map of the sensor locations, labeled Sensor 1 (closest to the mouth of the river) through 4 (furthest upriver). The following three graphs compare temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen at these four locations. To view more water quality data, please visit our public portal.

Noyo Harbor Water Quality Data