Context and Agenda for a meeting with the Ventura Shellfish Enterprise

Meeting will be held July 9th 4pm Harbor Classroom

Prepared by Kim Selkoe

1.     Overview of the Context

CFSB submitted a letter in support of the Ventura Shellfish Enterprise in April 2017, authored by board member Bernard Friedman. In it, we expressed our request that “representatives of CFSB and other fishery reps consult with VSE to properly place these farms in areas where they would minimize conflicts with other fisheries.”

VSE received funds from Sea Grant that enabled stakeholder engagement on siting in State Waters. Based on that feedback, VSE moved the siting to Federal waters where they believed fewer fishermen and fisheries are impacted, and a smaller percentage of territory would be taken. However, the current siting map shows the plots interfering with valuable fishing ground access on the Ventura Flats, in Block 665.  

The siting process for the federal permit application has not yet begun. VSE is still putting together the application materials.  We wish to know what the time line and process will be for continuing to engage fishermen on submitting a proposed siting in Federal waters that minimizes conflicts with fisheries. Currently, VSE doesn't have a grant, as it had last year from Sea Grant, to put into extensive stakeholder engagement.  However, we hope we can discuss this problem, and come up with a mutually acceptable stakeholder engagement process that will result in a siting we can support.

Importantly, VSE’s permit application will be blazing a pathway on how siting of aquaculture in Federal waters is done.  The VSE process will set the stage for how conflicts are dealt with and how commercial fishing is treated in all future aquaculture siting along our coast.  CFSB can play a role in designing effective stakeholder engagement in this process. It is an advantage that this trailblazing is being done by a public agency (Ventura Port District) with better transparency and accountability than a private firm, and it is beneficial that the VSE includes members of the Santa Barbara fishing community.

We need to find out what the long-term opportunities and risks are with this project, such as: would VSE some day incorporate or encourage finfish aquaculture? What opportunities and advantages might the VSE might bring to our fishing community?

2.     Meeting Goals

  • Learn from VSE reps about their intentions and perspective on overcoming conflicts with commercial fishing grounds.
  • Answer their questions about which fisheries may be most impacted and how.
  • Convey out concerns:
    • We are not supportive of taking away fishing grounds in Federal Waters.
    • We want to play a role in the siting and the use of data to estimate the losses to commercial fisheries.
  • Discuss, or make plans to discuss, whether there is a location and configuration that is palatable to commercial fishermen and meets the needs of VSE.

3.     Go over meeting etiquette:

  • Do not interrupt- raise your hand to speak
  • Avoid side conversations
  • Be polite
  • Be open minded and constructive
  • Do not dominate the air time

4.     Introductions

5.     Presentation on background of the VSE project and process by VSE reps.

6.     Questions from CFSB, including:

a.    The VSE model:

  i.     What is the realistic viability of VSE’s financial model?

ii.     What capital is needed and what percentage has been secured?

  iii.     What is the scope of the opportunity for subleasing a plot?

  iv.     Will VSE infrastructure possibly lead to expansion into finfish culture?

b.    The siting process:

  i.     What is the role of the map we have seen that shows the plots on ventura flats? Will that be submitted as is in the application? Can we work to modify its placement before it is submitted?

ii.     What is the timeline of the submitting the application?

  • Which agencies are taking the lead?
  • Who are the point people at agencies to connect with?