Paul Olin has spent his career in aquaculture, developing programs to raise shrimp, scallops and finfish. He is consulting with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as it prepares the environmental review of aquaculture in state waters. In the meantime, he is looking to the federal oceans as the next possibility.
Working with the port of Ventura, Olin is helping organize a project in which the port would lease 20 federal parcels of 100 acres each off the coast. The port, bearing the costs of permitting, would then lease the parcels to mussel farmers.
The benefit to the farmers is clear. But the port would also gain, Olin said, from the business the mussel farms would bring to a once-thriving working harbor that, like many along the Southern California coast, has been converted largely to tourism uses.
“We’ve seen a major shift in public sentiment — the social license — and government acceptance that this is the only way we’re going to produce the seafood we need,” said Olin, who hopes the Ventura project will be up and running within two years.