Aquaculture Updates and Resources

I am back for another year of aquaculture adventures with Oregon Sea Grant, after taking a short break in December. Thanks to my very supportive and flexible mentors, I was able to take some leave and focus on self-care, a very important aspect of work-life balance. To my fellow fellows, if you’re struggling with burnout, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need to recover. I rested A LOT, enjoyed the holidays at a slower pace, and visited Maui for the first time. The highlight of the trip was seeing a mama Gray whale with her baby on a snorkeling trip (where I also saw a SHARK and so many turtles and fish). After being stuck at home so much for the past couple of years, this trip was a good reminder of why I decided to study and work in marine science. 

Right now I am finishing up and launching some new projects for this year. Last November, I completed a draft of an aquaculture white paper that summarizes the Oregon aquaculture needs assessment, and reviews the regulatory framework for aquaculture in Oregon. I sent the full draft to some Sea Grant extension specialists in Oregon and Washington for review and am working with my mentor to address their comments and improve the report. Another project I am working on is a “Guide to Oregon Aquaculture” which will feature the different types of species, methods, and products in Oregon. I have been working on putting the information together, and my next step is to put it online, potentially using an ArcGIS StoryMap. I am looking forward to learning a new skill and making a visually appealing product to showcase this information. A new project that I am working on is creating some permitting guidance. The needs assessment pointed to a lack of information about permits and regulations as a major barrier to both starting and expanding aquaculture operations in Oregon. Right now I am meeting with folks that have created permitting guides in other states, doing research, and setting goals and timelines for completing the project. With all of these projects in progress, and several meetings and professional development opportunities to manage, I am strengthening my skills in task prioritization. 

One of the exciting things about aquaculture in the U.S. right now is that new tools and resources are constantly being developed to advance sustainable aquaculture. In the past few months, several new items have been released that provide information about siting, permitting, and business planning for new operations in Oregon, and along the U.S. West coast. I’ve provided links and descriptions of these new products that compliment what I am working on for Oregon Sea Grant. 

Oregon Aquaculture Landing Page: In December 2021, this webpage was launched on the Oregon Explorer Natural Resources Digital Library. The landing page links to several other resources that were developed concurrently, like the Estuary Shellfish Mariculture Explorer and the Oregon Aquaculture Explorer Platform. 

Estuary Shellfish Mariculture Explorer: This is a spatial tool to help with choosing a site for growing shellfish within estuaries in Oregon. The tool was created by the Department of Land Conservation and Development, Oregon Explorer, and Oregon Department of Agriculture and includes approved growing areas for shellfish and locations of current leased tidelands, among other resources.

Oregon Aquaculture Explorer Platform: This platform provides spatial and financial tools for setting up inland aquaculture operations for Tilapia, Sturgeon, and Hybrid Striped Bass. Users can use the map viewer to look at different spatial factors that are important for setting up an onsite aquaculture operation, such as water resources, land ownership, and climate, and create a site report for a specified location. The platform also has financial planning tools with specific information for each fish species. Funding from Oregon Sea Grant will support expansion of the tool to include marine species in the near future.

NOAA Permitting Resources: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released several federal and state level permitting resources. Two websites for the U.S. West coast with lists of permitting information and siting resources for Washington, Oregon and California went live in fall 2021. NOAA also produced a Federal Permitting Guide for Marine Aquaculture in February 2022 that includes the major federal agencies, permits, and laws, and has links to a state permit and lease summaries for shellfish, finfish, and seaweed

It’s exciting to see so much progress and change in just the last year, which keeps me motivated to work on Oregon specific resources. Looking forward, I am really excited to potentially meet my co-workers in person in the next month. OSG is planning an in-person program meeting in Newport in April. I hope I can get out to the coast again and meet the awesome folks that I’ve been fortunate to work with.

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