If you’re from the village by the sea, aquatic life is a part of your every day. From entertainment to relaxation, being near the water is a coastal perk that many travel miles and miles to experience. Even so, what’s beneath the water is a part of coastal living that many never even think about. Water sports, surfing, and sunbathing are all fun activities that get us splashing around. But what’s underneath the surface and why does it matter?
The reality is that when you visit the coast, the delicious seafood that you get to enjoy comes from local sources. In Southern California, certain delicacies like sand dabs are unique. The more common seafood inventory is obtained directly from the Pacific Ocean or from controlled environments to cultivate aquatic organisms called aquafarms. Similar to agriculture, aquaculture is in the business of fish, not livestock. The farm-to-table process of aquaculture starts with hatcheries and employs many different processes to ensure that seafood is safe and ethically produced.
Many of our oceans have experienced overfishing. As natural resources continue to wane, alternate sources are increasingly important. Aquaculture fills in the gap of decreasing seafood supply responsibly and sustainably. It provides lower greenhouse gas emissions than other types of farming and higher protein retention compared to more popular livestock like beef, pork, and chicken.
If you’ve driven alongside the coast in Carlsbad, you might have seen large rows of structures in the water opposite the ocean. These are a part of Carlsbad’s very own Aquafarm. The entrance is accessible via Carlsbad Blvd, across from lifeguard beach Tower 30.
The Carlsbad Aquafarm concentrates on shellfish. They house an R&D function in collaboration with USC’s Wrigley Marine Lab and are committed to breeding ‘better oysters for a changing ocean’. With a new majority of seafood coming from aquaculture, the Carlsbad Aquafarm knows that seafood farming needs to be done sustainability and without harm to the surrounding environment.
Starting back in the 1950’s, the incorporation of Carlsbad started looking into aquaculture to improve the ecological health of the Carlsbad lagoon. They quickly found that shellfish were a key element for a healthy lagoon. Fast forward to today and the Aquafarm has carried that finding into the values and vision of their work. They measure their work by the quality of their seafood and the ecological health of the lagoon and are deeply invested in preserving the coastal environment by growing shellfish in harmony with natural marine surroundings. The Aquafarm strives to maintain and protect the historic waterfront of Carlsbad and surrounding habitats.
The floating farm itself produces crops of oysters and mussels with a structure that can withstand strong tidal currents. The shellfish are submerged above the seafloor with anchored floats in trays so that predatory species and contaminants can’t reach them. Through morning harvests and tumbling that mimics tidal flows, the oysters are triple purified to ensure the utmost quality and safety.
If you want to go visit the Aquafarm for yourself, farm tours and tastings are available. Tickets include a one-hour experience where you can discover the techniques used to grow and harvest homegrown oysters and learn about sustainable shellfish farming practices firsthand. They also include hands-on learning with an oyster shucking demonstration where you can enjoy fresh oysters with hot sauce, lemons, and water.
In the village by the sea, the sea gives us abundant life. Visit the Carlsbad Aquafarm to learn more about what’s beneath the surface.