There are 87 administrative kelp beds located offshore of California’s mainland and surrounding the Channel Islands. The kelp beds contain giant or bull kelp, or a combination of both. As of November 2016, each kelp bed falls within one of the following management categories:
||Number of Kelp Beds
||Available to harvest by all commercial kelp harvesters
||Available to harvest by commercial kelp harvesters, until an exclusive lease is granted by the California Fish and Game Commission, then only available to the lessee
||28 are leasable, 5 are currently leased
||Commercial harvest of kelp is prohibited unless an exclusive lease is granted by the California Fish and Game Commission
||Commercial harvest of kelp is prohibited
All commercial harvesters of marine algae must purchase an annual commercial kelp harvester license and abide by commercial algae harvest regulations (California Code of Regulations [CCR], Title 14, Sections 165 and 165.5). Eelgrass (Zostera species) and surfgrass (Phyllospadix species) are prohibited from commercial harvest.
A commercial kelp harvesting license can be purchased at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) office at 4665 Lampson Avenue, Suite C, Los Alamitos, CA 90720. You may also call CDFW at (562) 342-7100 to request an application.
Commercial Marine Algae Harvest Data
Commercial kelp harvest logbook data for giant and bull kelp, 1931-2015
Commercial edible algae harvest logbook data, 1997-2015
Informational Digest: Regulations Governing the Harvest of Kelp and Other Marine Algae in California
- Informational Digest (PDF) (4.4 MB)
Includes the following:
- General information on the commercial harvest of kelp, edible marine algae, and agar-bearing algae
- Fish and Game Code Sections 6650-6751: Regulations for the Commercial Harvest of Kelp and Other Aquatic Plants
- CCR Title 14, Sections 165 and 165.5: Regulations for the Commercial Harvest of Kelp and Other Aquatic Plants
- Commercial Kelp Harvester's Monthly Report
- Commercial Edible Seaweed/Agar Harvester's Monthly Report
- Attachment 1: Administrative Kelp Bed Maps
State marine protected areas, marine recreational management areas, and special closures noted
Recognizing an increased interest in the commercial harvest of marine algae, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) and CDFW began discussions to amend regulations to improve the management of California's marine algae resources. In 2012, the Commission directed CDFW to develop an approach to guide the revision of regulations governing the commercial marine algae harvest. CDFW developed a three-phase approach to guide the revision of the regulations. The Commission adopted Phase One amendments effective April 1, 2014. The amendments included updating administrative kelp bed boundaries and making editorial changes to improve clarity and consistency of the regulations.
The next phase will focus on edible seaweed, agar-bearing algae, and kelp management policies, including harvest methods. CDFW anticipates hosting public scoping meetings on these issues in 2017. A review of the commercial kelp and edible seaweed license fees and royalty rates will follow at a later date.
California Department of Public Health
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) regulates all commercially manufactured and processed food for human consumption in California. For more information on CDPH regulations, requirements, and permitting, refer to the CDPH website.
- Kelp and Other Marine Algae Regulations:
- Marine Protected Area Regulations:
- California Fish and Game Commission
- California Administrative Kelp Bed Boundaries:
- California Fishing Blocks (for edible algae harvest reporting):