The Carlsbad Aquafarm gives back to local environment

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Keira Kane

Carlsbad Aquafarm farms oysters in the local lagoon, benefiting the environment. It is beneficial for the City of Carlsbad because it produces food for not just humans but for all the living creatures in the lagoon.

Keira Kane, Reporter

The local Carlsbad Aquafarm has been getting more notice in the past year because their farm tours are more popular than ever. The Aquafarm is very biodiverse and sees a variety of wildlife every day, including the mussels and oysters that are farmed. 

The tours are very informative and explain what aquafarming is and how it is good for the city of Carlsbad. Jason Newberry, a tour guide for the Carlsbad Aquafarm, shared why it is beneficial to the environment.

“It’s pretty cool because not only are we helping with local food sources and doing actual selling of oysters, we’re actually trying to do a lot of things in restoration and conservation,” Newberry said. “We’re actually working really hard on bringing back the local eelgrass in the area which is pretty cool. Eel grass has taken a hit over the past years with climate change, [and] it’s been kind of hard on them. Thankfully we’ve actually been able to get a lot more of that back in and we’re actually donating all of these shells.”

The Aquafarm has been around since the 70s and is now getting more notice and publicity. The Aquafarm isn’t just good for benefiting the environment but it is also profitable.

“Our lagoon has kind of been doing its own thing for a long time,” Newberry said. “The first piece of shellfish went back to 1952 [and] we actually opened up in ‘72 so it’s been going for quite a while here.”

The Carlsbad Aquafarm not only brings fresh seafood to Carlsbad, but it biologically aids the environment. The aquafarm is working on a project called “Bio Balls” where they are mixing concrete with crushed oyster shells and putting those in the San Diego Bay to make an oyster reef. The oyster reefs will appear a couple of years after the “Bio Balls” are placed in the water, which will also provide food for wildlife.

 “In the Carlsbad area, we’re helping keep the water clean,” Newberry said. “And we’re also doing another thing with a company that’s basically making little things called ‘bio balls.’” 

The Carlsbad Aquafarm provides a chance to acquire research. Gaining knowledge is one of the main reasons why the aquafarm exists. 

“I would definitely say research [is the main purpose of the aquafarm],”  Newberry said. “Our owner, Tom, is actually a big wilderness biologist. We do all different kinds of science [and] work on different hatcheries here.”

There are many things that happen on the Aquafarm, daily. Anything from collecting fresh oysters to packing up oyster curb-side pick-ups is what a usual day looks like. 

“Normally, for myself, the tour guide, we’re packing up different orders for oysters,” Newberry said. “We’re also collecting all the good ones [and] making sure that they’re still alive the day of, so that when we actually serve them it’s a good oyster for you. It’s an interesting kind of day here at the farm but lots and lots of things change [and] every day is different.” 

Many creatures pass through the Aquafarm waters every day. A variety of sea life is seen by tour guides as well as by people on tours.

“I see stingrays a lot right here on the dock,” Newberry said. “They’ve actually become pretty smart. They come around about ten minutes before we end the tour because they know they’re going to get snacks at the end. The Garibaldi, the California state fish, is a big occupant of our lagoon here. Every single day is usually different, but on regular days it’s sting rays, the garibaldi, harbor seals and sea turtles.” 

The process of aquafarming can be tricky to understand, but knowing what aquafarming is can make local Carlsbad citizens more aware of our environment. 

“Aquafarming is a fairly interesting thing,” Newberry said. “When it first started, basically you just had these shellfish, usually oysters, for aquafarming. For most oyster farms we do have this whole process where you have to hang them, you have to clean them, you have to kind of care for them.”

Maintaining oysters at the aquafarm is a big responsibility for the workers and staff. There is a process of cleaning them and making sure they are ready for customers to enjoy.

“Usually we rotate our oysters about every two to three months,” Newberry said. “That’s just because we don’t get the same kind of currents in here that so many other oyster farms get, so we actually take all of them out at one point. They’ll go through a tumble machine [which is] a little bit different here at the lagoon, but most aquafarms do the exact same thing, like maintaining, trying to stay as sustainable as possible and also trying to give back to the local wildlife.”

Having a local aquafarm here in Carlsbad brings so many new opportunities to our environment and it’s a big step in the future for Carlsbad. 

“I think it’s important [that we have an aquafarm in Carlsbad] because, with the way that our environment is going, I truly believe at one point the only thing we’re going to be able to do is aquafarming, and when we can get on top of that [and] being a little bit more sustainable, also giving back to the local community, I think it’s going to be the next step in actual farming,” Newberry said.