Programmatic EIR for Marine Aquaculture


In 2006, the State enacted Senate Bill 201 (SB201) which requires the Department, in consultation with the Aquaculture Development Committee, to “prepare programmatic environmental impact reports for existing and potential commercial aquaculture operations in both coastal and inland areas of the state [if certain conditions are met]….” This Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) is being prepared pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and its implementing regulations, with additional analysis of factors required by SB201 to provide a framework for managing potential future coastal marine finfish aquaculture projects.

The purpose of the PEIR is to develop and evaluate a Management Framework for the State Coastal Marine Aquaculture Program (Program) for current and future culturing of shellfish and algae and future finfish aquaculture on state water bottom leases issued by the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission), and to inform decision makers and the general public about the potential environmental impacts of existing and future marine aquaculture projects which would be considered under the Program.

This report will be prepared as a programmatic level document. A PEIR is a type of tiered CEQA document that is intended to be broad in nature. Not all impacts from all future projects will be able to be determined or analyzed in this document. The intent of the PEIR is to analyze reasonably expected or determined impacts from the proposed Program with additional environmental impact analyses to be done when specific aquaculture projects are proposed in the future.

The PEIR will programmatically evaluate the various types of marine aquaculture facilities which currently exist or may be reasonably anticipated in the future, and that would have generally similar types of environmental impacts which could be mitigated in similar ways.The PEIR process is intended to provide the Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department) with the environmental information required to evaluate the proposed Program; to identify methods for reducing adverse environmental impacts; and to ensure that a range of alternatives is considered prior to the approval of the Program. As individual new projects are brought before the Commission for leases in the future, this guidance can support the preparation of project-specific CEQA evaluations that will provide detailed guidance to the individual aquaculturist.