Improving oyster aquaculture site selection: Getting rid of the guesswork

This project will use an oyster bioenergetics model to determine optimum growing conditions for Maryland oysters based on water quality at potential lease sites. It gets “rid of the guesswork” when it comes to finding suitable locations for aquaculturists seeking a place to grow oysters.

This study is being led by Dr. Matt Parker of the University of Maryland Extension, along with Don Webster of the University of Maryland Extension, Dr. Jeremy Testa of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences, and Dr. Suzanne Bricker of the NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.

Users of the tool this study creates will be able to get information from publicly available data sources such as Maryland’s Eyes on the Bay. Along with variables such as temperature and salinity ranges, users will be able to enter values to estimate food abundance in proposed leases. To evaluate sites, the tool will include other variables, such as bottom type and distance from land-based facilities. Based on user inputs, potential leases will receive a numerical score that can be compared between sites to estimate which is better to grow oysters. 

The team will start the project in the summer of 2023. Orchard Point Oyster Company and Ferry Cove Shellfish have agreed to be industry partners to field test the tool and provide user feedback.