The California Coastal Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will make the next rulings in the Coast Seafoods bid to expand oyster harvesting in the north and central sections of Humboldt Bay, while continuing its existing operations.
If both agencies agree, Phase 1 of the expansion project would likely begin in June.
The pending state and federal reviews will follow unanimous approval Feb. 28 at a meeting of the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District Board of Commissioners.
At that meeting, the board made several changes to strengthen Coast Seafoods’environmental compliance. First, representatives of the Wiyot Tribe will serve on an ad hoc advisory committee of stakeholders and community members that will evaluate on a regular basis the monitoring data on the expansion’s environmental impacts.
Second, the company will finance a $40,000 Black Brant monitoring plan, which must be submitted to the board’s executive director before any more oyster cultivation equipment is deployed.
Third, under a last-minute edit offered by Fourth District Commissioner Larry Doss, the life of the ad hoc advisory panel was extended to coincide with the company’s 10-year lease.
These additional requirements, among many others introduced since the project’s conception in June 2016, overcame the lack of a quorum at the board’s fractious and heavily attended Jan. 19 meeting on Woodley Island.
Concerning mitigation measures, Coast promises to cooperate with regulators in helping to eliminate pollution, including agricultural, industrial and municipal discharges.
The company pledges to collect water quality samples as part of monitoring programs with federal and state agencies (e.g., National Shellfish Sanitation Program) that track quality trends and pinpoint locations needing improvement.
The company also says it will continue to assist local and state organizations (e.g., Humboldt Baykeeper) to improve water quality conditions within the estuaries where shellfish aquaculture occurs.