As an organization dedicated to conserving iconic California species, Creek Lands Conservation is eager to explore whether we could expand the purpose of the Abalone Farm facilities in Cayucos to combine conservation-oriented aquaculture with food production aquaculture. White and black abalone are both Federally listed endangered species, and both the National Marine Fisheries Services and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife perceive great potential value in adding the Abalone Farm to the consortium of facilities that are teaming to save these important invertebrates.
Likewise, aquaculture is rapidly growing in California and the existing facility could serve as a research and training facility for students in various disciplines. Students from Cal Poly and Cal State Monterey could learn from the spawning, culturing, maintaining, growing, and outplanting of endangered white abalone (and perhaps black abalone) and from the preparing and marketing of commercially valuable red abalone. While shellfish propagation requires years to mature the animals whether for processing or outplanting, a portion of the facility could pivot from animal aquaculture to seaweed cultivation. The prospect of balancing ecosystem restoration with sustainable food production is a thrilling glimpse into a more harmonious relationship between people and nature.
The vision of this effort is to reincarnate the Abalone Farm as a combined-use aquaculture facility operated as a nonprofit NGO with a primary objective of endangered species recovery. Until such time as protocols exist for black abalone propagation, the focus will be on propagating and growing white abalone for out-planting. Commercial production of red abalone will continue while appropriate groups develop a solid basis for white abalone conservation production. Going forward, the mission could expand to multi-species shellfish and seaweed production with educational, commercial and conservation objectives.
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Other keywords: Cayucos, Abalone, White abalone, Black abalone, Endangered species, Aquaculture, San Luis Obispo County, Water quality, Marine conservation, Mollusks, Seaweed, Conservation