Situated off the coast of Ventura near the pristine waters of Channel Islands National Park, an exciting new industry is being born. The Channel Islands Kelp & Mussel Company will be a testbed for modern, sustainable aquaculture techniques, focusing on two core crops: mussels and kelp. Mussels provide a zero-freshwater, low carbon protein source and have an essential place on the coastal dinner table. Kelp is a zero-freshwater source of biomass that can provide a net-carbon-negative biofuel.
We believe aquaculture is essential to California's future. Because, when it comes to climate change, California has lots to lose. Rising seas threaten homes and neighborhoods. Droughts threaten already precious freshwater reserves used for the country's largest breadbasket. Fires ravage the state up and down the coast, destroying homes and lives, and covering counties in smoke for months on end. As the state navigates these challenges, aquaculture projects provide urgently needed carbon removals, emissions reductions, and water savings at a fraction of the cost to the consumer—and the planet.
Channel Islands Kelp & Mussel Company is dedicated to the California Coast, sustainable aquaculture techniques, and a vision of carbon-negative, zero-freshwater, delicious, farm-to-table seafood.
Imagine dining in Ventura County and knowing that the mussels on your plate were grown just miles from your table in the pristine waters of the Santa Barbara Channel. Imagine a school bus taking your children to school using locally-sourced and sustainably-grown carbon negative biofuel. Rolling out these technologies is the next logical step for an increasingly water constrained California facing the imminent threats of global climate change.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is currently working to announce Aquaculture Opportunity Areas (AOAs) across the country with a focus on next generation aquaculture techniques that protect and enrich coastal habitats and communities while contributing needed carbon emissions reductions. NOAA's Environmental Impact Assesment process is currently underway and they are accepting initial public comments on their proposed strategic plan. The Channel Islands Kelp & Mussel Company is participating in the comment process and is in position to be among the first entrants to this exciting new space.
In the NOAA roadmap, we see a framework for local small businesses which are fundamentally aligned with climate impact: local food that enhances the waterways in which it is grown and local fuel which conserves water and helps bridge the gap between the emissions of today and the climate change mitigation technology of tomorrow. Bioenergy paired with carbon capture and sequestration plays a critical role in the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report: it is the gap-technology that we can implement now while we wait for the world to decarbonize.
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Tyler Buckingham is one of the foremost media figures focused on the American shoreline, with years of experience working with state and federal governments on a variety of projects both on land and at sea. As the executive producer and one of the primary hosts on the American Shoreline Podcast Network, Tyler speaks with an audience of thousands of coastal professionals weekly, delivering the latest updates on the opportunities and challenges faced across the ocean and coastal space. His career started at the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, where he reviewed program effectiveness for large foreign grants. After a stint at the Ken Burns’ studio in Keene, New Hampshire and a tech company in San Francisco, Tyler settled in Austin, Texas. Before entering the coastal media space, Tyler consulted with state and municipal governments as they constructed funding plans for a variety of coastal projects including in aquaculture, coastal restoration, and channel maintenance.
Drew Westphal is the COO of the JoCo Cruise, an annual Sci Fi Fantasy convention at sea, and was an early contributor in the founding of Carbon Gap, an EU Carbon Dioxide Removal Advocacy group. Drew became interested in climate change mitigation as he developed the JoCo Cruise Carbon Roadmap, which details his company’s pledge to deliver a carbon neutral voyage to its customers. Drew’s work as a programmer and business consultant includes the They Might Be Giants iPhone Application, development of the JoCo Cruise booking platform, and consulting work for creative entrepreneurs (sometimes resulting in speaking engagements). While in the travel and music space has been a fulfilling part of Drew’s career, his next focus is on climate impact.
A journey of a thousand regulatory approvals starts with a single grant application. Our current focus is on the NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy grant, which lays the groundwork for a successful aquaculture operation with Ventura Harbor as its home port. The S-K Program funds small projects—ranging from $25,000 to $300,000—that promote sustainable fisheries, aquaculture, marine conservation, and increasing other opportunities to keep working waterfronts viable. The FY23 grant cycle is currently open and accepting applications, with brief pre-proposals due on July 18th.
Our intended project area is an aquaculture supply chain and marketing cookbook for Ventura County, as well as documents intended to support the development of our business, a 200 acre aquaculture site permitted for kelp and mussels, operating out of Ventura Harbor. This grant is the first step in our funding plan to support the business at it scales up in anticipation of NOAA's AOA announcements.