Shellfish company to create test plots to analyze potential for expansion




After its bid to expand its shellfish farming operations by more than 250 acres in Humboldt Bay was shot down earlier this summer, Coast Seafoods Company is now proposing to reduce its existing operations in the bay, according to state documents.


“This approach is what the agencies would like us to take,” the company’s Southwest Operations Manager Greg Dale said Saturday morning. “We just want to keep our farm.”


The Eureka-based company plans to remove a net 21.7 acres of its existing oyster and clam farming operations. The company also proposes to create 12 acres of new cultivation area made up of four “test plots” where the company will monitor how its oyster and clam farming techniques impact eelgrass and Pacific black brant foraging in different areas in the northern portion of the bay.


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The California Coastal Commission is set to decide on Aug. 10 whether to renew Coast Seafood Company’s existing shellfish farming operations in Humboldt Bay. The company’s permits are set to expire the following day if not renewed.

Commission staff is recommending to extend the company’s nearly 300 acres of existing oyster and clam farming operations in northern Humboldt Bay through Dec. 31.

The proposed extension comes after the commission voted 6-5 to deny the company’s proposal to renew about 230 of its existing aquaculture operations and to expand by another nearly 260 acres. The commissioners who opposed the project were concerned about the size of the project and the potential impacts to sensitive eelgrass beds in the bay and the wildlife that rely on them.

Coastal Commission senior environmental scientist Cassidy Teufel said Saturday that the time extension is to allow the company to submit a revised expansion plan.

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The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors has joined other California lawmakers, business leaders, environmental groups and government agencies in rejecting the Trump administration’s attempts to open up the California coast to new offshore oil drilling. At its July 25 meeting, the board unanimously passed a resolution in support of the nearby Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries. 


The sanctuaries, the resolution notes, “are home to some of the most diverse coastal ecosystems, which support giant kelp forests, many species of marine mammals, migrating salmon and hundreds of other forms of sea life,” before going on to confirm that, yes, the threat laid out in April’s “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy” presidential order “is of deep concern.” 


The Trump administration’s directive calls for a “review” of national marine sanctuaries with the goal of opening these protected areas to new and expanded oil and gas drilling that are currently prohibited within them. As the resolution notes, Humboldt County “has long supported the protection of vital coastal resources, tourism, fishing and mariculture cultivation industries, and stands with other coastal counties in their efforts to protect these very pristine coastal waters.”


Efforts appear to have found some success, generating more than 67,000 comments and resulting in an extended comment period from the initial 30-day one, giving the public until Aug. 14 to weigh in. The North Coast's own Congressman Jared Huffman advocated heavily for the extension and will be holding a public forum in Marin to discuss the federal threat to the coast on Aug. 23.


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Two Bay Area counties sued 37 oil, gas and coal companies Monday asserting the companies knew their fossil fuel products would cause sea level rise and coastal flooding but failed to reduce their greenhouse gas pollution.

The lawsuit was part of a coordinated litigation attack by Marin, San Mateo County and the city of Imperial Beach.

The lawsuit, filed in Marin County Superior Court, alleges that “major corporate members of the fossil fuel industry, have known for nearly a half century that unrestricted production and use of their fossil fuel products create greenhouse gas pollution that warms the planet and changes our climate.”

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Last week, members of the California Transportation Commission got tough with the North Coast Railroad Authority, the public agency that owns the defunct railroad tracks around Humboldt County, which has been operating in the red and selling off publicly owned property to stay afloat.


After peppering the railroad authority’s executive director with a series of pointed questions at its meeting Thursday morning, the commission asked the NCRA to come back to them in October with a couple of new documents: a business plan and a “shutdown plan.”


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