Commercial Harvest of Kelp and Other Marine Algae

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 December 2020, each kelp bed falls within one of the following management categories:

Status Management Category Number of Kelp Beds
Open Available to harvest by all commercial kelp harvesters 33
Leasable 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 31 are leasable, 2 are currently leased
Lease only Commercial harvest of kelp is prohibited unless an exclusive lease is granted by the California Fish and Game Commission 3
Closed Commercial harvest of kelp is prohibited 18

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

Graph 2 - Commercial kelp harvest logbook data for giant and bull kelp, 1931-2019
Commercial kelp harvest logbook data for giant and bull kelp, 1931-2019


Graph 3 - Commercial edible algae harvest logbook data, 1997-2019
Commercial edible algae harvest logbook data, 1997-2019

Informational Digest: Regulations Governing the Commercial 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

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 link opens in new windowCDPH website.

Further Information: