Oyster farming is increasing in the Northeast and is a top contributor of our region’s $161 million in annual aquaculture sales. However, a major challenge to the continued growth of this shellfish crop is availability of oyster seed. Hatchery and nursery capacity for seed production is limited, and often the demand for oyster seed exceeds their production capacity.
To help address this challenge, Lisa Calvo of Sweet Amalia Oyster Farm in Newfield, NJ conducted a Northeast SARE Farmer Grant project to evaluate on-farm nursery strategies. She tested the performance of two cage types for growing oyster seed in two different positions (floating and fixed on bottom) with two stocking densities (2,000 and 8,000 seeds per cage). Calvo measured oyster seed survival, growth, shell morphology, and biofouling over a period of 12 weeks. She found that all methods were effective for the field nursery of seed; oyster seed survival averaged 84%. Calvo noted that the seed grown in floating cages grew faster than seed grown on the bottom and that shell shape was also influenced by the cage type and position.
The results of the project will help oyster farmers start or improve field nurseries that will better ensure they have an adequate supply of oyster seed. Calvo said the project has led to changes on her farm; she is now purchasing 2 mm seed for her field nursery and is continuing to modify her system to ensure the healthy production of oysters.
Want more information? See the related SARE grant:
- Optimization and Demonstration of Field Nursery Practices for Oyster Seed Cultivation in the Delaware Bay, NJ (FNE18-888)