Native seaweed aquaculture in Tomales Bay: Gracilariopsis andersonii cultivation techniques and associated ecosystem services

Start/End: April, 2018 to January, 2019

Studies have shown that seaweed aquaculture can absorb carbon and nitrogen from the water and contribute to the reduction of local ocean acidification and eutrophication. These studies indicate great potential for seaweed aquaculture in California as a tool for mitigating ocean acidification and managing water quality, as well as providing a sustainable source of local food. However, there are limited data pertaining to cultivation of native California seaweed species and no existing open-water seaweed farming models in California to research or replicate. The proposed project is a proof-of-concept field scale evaluation of native seaweed aquaculture in Tomales Bay, California, in an area currently leased for shellfish production.

The project aims to (1) pilot native seaweed (Gracilariopsis andersonii) aquaculture in Tomales Bay, (2) quantify and value the ecosystems services associated with native seaweed aquaculture, and (3) generate data on the potential benefits of native seaweed aquaculture in providing a nutritious source of local food. The preliminary data collected in this project are needed to develop a full proposal to evaluate native seaweed aquaculture in California as a tool for (1) mitigating local ocean acidification, (2) managing water quality, and (3) producing a local source of sustainable and nutritious food. In addition, the  project will generate data to inform the adaptive management of integrated aquaculture operations and raise public awareness of the potential benefits of seaweed aquaculture in ensuring the long-term vitality and resilience of California’s coastal ecosystems and communities.