Mad River Union
ARCATA — Whatever the ultimate scope of Coast Seafoods’ beleaguered oyster farm expansion – if one is ever permitted – the company will have to meet tough state demands to clean up loose debris from Humboldt Bay.
Originally Coast wanted to expand oyster cultivation on roughly 1,000 miles of cultivation lines – 50,000 100-foot lines – in tandem with growing clams on 30 floating rafts already deployed.
Responding to complaints from fishermen, environmentalists and recreational users, the Coastal Commission will require the company to provide marine debris reduction training to its employees if some expansion is finally authorized.
Workers would be taught how to identify loose culture gear, repair it properly as feasible and remove it in full from fallow or out-of-production farming beds.
Regarding the latter, Coast Seafoods would have to retrieve all piles of oysters and oyster shells and all culture apparatus, “including but not limited to” racks, baskets, floats, rope, zip-ties, wires, tags, fasteners and pallets.
Clean-up also applies to such non-biodegradable material as plastic PVC (polyvinyl chloride) stakes and nylon or polypropylene rope.
The company would have to conduct quarterly bay-wide cleanups, walking different portions of the bay and shorelines to collect loose shellfish gear and any other trash, regardless of whether it came from expanded farming.
Clean-up locations and durations and the types and amounts of shellfish debris gathered would be documented in an annual report to the commission.
Consistent sources of debris would require the use of alternative types of gear or changing cultivation practices.
Regular maintenance and bed inspections are intended to help ensure that broken, collapsed, fallen, or buried gear is fixed or removed in timely fashion.
Escaped gear that cannot be repaired or replaced on a shellfish bed “shall be properly recycled or disposed of on land.”
Responding to a complaint of the Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association about unidentified equipment set loose in the bay, the commission directs the company to mark shellfish culture bags, baskets and basket label tags “in an easily identifiable manner with its company name or other identification information.”
Existing culture bags, baskets and basket label tags also would have to be marked or replaced with marked versions when culture beds are replanted. Another commission proviso holds Coast responsible for picking up loose cultivation material from shorelines, eelgrass beds and mudflats.