On November 2, 2023, the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) co-hosted the Sea Grant–NCCOS California Aquaculture Siting and Development Workshop in San Diego, CA. This workshop was part of a four-year project connecting state Sea Grant programs, National Sea Grant, NCCOS, and other coastal ocean user groups to enhance aquaculture planning resources and strengthen connections among stakeholders. The goal of the workshop was to promote collaboration and capacity-building for sustainable aquaculture, and attendees from a range of ocean user groups (state and local government, federal government, and industry) were there to participate and learn more from each other and NCCOS coastal planning tools.
At the workshop, aquaculture siting tools and collaboration opportunities, as well as building essential relationships for sustainable aquaculture development on the west coast were explored. The workshop encouraged knowledge exchange and co-creation for developing accessible and applicable tools, and the NCCOS team was able to gather excellent feedback to expand and improve existing tools that the team has had a hand in creating, like the National Aquamapper and OceanReports. The event featured presentations, discussions, and activities to enhance understanding of aquaculture siting and development, and it highlighted the importance of collaboration among stakeholders.
The workshop was part of a broader effort to address the seafood trade deficit by increasing sustainable aquaculture production across the nation. With over 85% of seafood consumed in the U.S. being imported and more than 50% of that coming from aquaculture, there is a need to scale up domestic aquaculture and contribute to working waterfronts right here in our coastal ocean. The workshop aimed to provide tools to help industry close this gap and support the development of Aquaculture Opportunity Areas. Workshops like this one help to extend spatial planning tools to aquaculture siting and disseminate findings to a wide audience.