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Getting the Word Out: Sharing the Benefits of Shellfish Aquaculture

Published on: 06/05/2015
Research Area(s): Marine Spatial Ecology
Primary Contact(s): suzanne.bricker@noaa.gov

Different aspects of shellfish aquaculture science were recently shared on three separate occasions with regional groups that varied from industry partners to regional growers to high school students. These presentations are part of an effort to communicate best practices of shellfish aquaculture to the public and stakeholders so that these methods will be employed in the future while also raising awareness of eutrophication as a major issue facing estuaries.

In an effort to connect with commercial shellfish growers, a presentation was given at the Connecticut Shellfish Industry Workshop held on May 15, 2015 at the Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture Science and Technology Education Center in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The presentation, "The Farm Aquaculture Resource Management (FARM) model: Uses for spatial planning and nutrient management (Shellfish can help the bay!)," highlighted the use of the model in Long Island Sound (LIS) to predict oyster production, the impact of oyster aquaculture on the environment, the removal of nitrogen and the value of the 'ecosystem service' provided by the oysters. The valuation is of particular interest if included in the Connecticut Nitrogen Credit Exchange Program which would allow the growers to receive income for the water cleaning service provided by the oysters in addition to income from their seafood product. The Connecticut Bureau of Aquaculture convened the meeting to provide growers with information to enhance the success of their businesses.

A similar presentation was shared with the Lions Club in Rock Hall, MD, a group that includes watermen that currently grow oysters, on May 18, 2015. The presentation, "Oysters can help the bay!" highlighted the use of the Farm Aquaculture Resource Management (FARM) model in Patuxent and Potomac River Estuaries to predict oyster production, the impact of oyster aquaculture on the environment, the removal of nitrogen and the value of the 'ecosystem service' provided by the oysters through the removal of nitrogen from the water. A follow-up meeting is planned for later this summer to discuss the possibility of application of the model to a local shellfish farm. Local shellfish farms and small growers could also qualify for a nutrient trading program if implemented in Maryland.

Later that month, an NCCOS scientist presented, "Nutrient Pollution, Oyster Aquaculture and Ocean Acidification" at South Carroll High School in Sykesville, MD as part of a guest lecture series designed to expose students to real world research and generate interest in careers in science and technology. The presentation described evaluation of nutrient related water quality conditions in US and global estuaries and current research on the potential to use shellfish aquaculture as an in-the-water nutrient management measure to complement traditional land-based measures. Also discussed was the relation of ocean acidification, considered 'the other eutrophication problem,' and the current state of understanding including potential impacts to shellfish populations of acidificationand vice versa. Data collection and analysis procedures and interpreting data results was of particular interest. Each class then toured the high school's science research facility which currently has several finfish aquaculture projects using a recirculating water system designed to reduce or eliminate the need for water changes that is partially supported by NOAA's Sea Grant Program.

For more information contact Suzanne Bricker.

Related project pages:

Shellfish Aquaculture and Payment for Ecosystem Services in Chesapeake Bay

Eutrophication and Oyster Aquaculture in the Patuxent River

Aquaculture and Eutrophication in Long Island Sound and Great Bay - Piscataqua Estuary

Improved Aquaculture Decision-making Using the Aquaculture Mapping Atlas and FARM Model

National Estuarine Eutrophication Assessment: Update

Try the models yourself at : www.eutro.org/register (Assessment of Estuarine Trophic Status [ASSETS] eutrophication model); www.farmscale.org (Farm Aquaculture Resource Management [FARM] shellfish aquaculture model).

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