Getting Started

Starting a shellfish aquaculture business requires many important decisions.  These include: what type of gear to use; what markets to target with your products; where to find a suitable lease and what type to apply for; how to make out the applications; where to find financing; and many others that can make or break the business.

There is information available that can aid you in these decisions.  We have tried to bring many of these together in these pages.  You will find links to other sites for looking at areas where you may be able to find suitable leases.  We have publications that describe the methods and gear needed to grow oysters.  For those who want to produce their own seed, we have information on the methods and equipment to develop quality seed.  Other links will take you to sites where you can find larvae, seed and shell for your operation.

One that is important is the adherence to Best Management Practices.  The East Coast Shellfish Growers Association, with funding from the USDA Northeastern Regional Aquaculture Center, has written a manual for these practices.  This has been adopted by the Maryland Aquaculture Coordinating Council as the voluntary BMPs for the industry.  You would be advised to download a copy for reference since it was developed after many meetings with industry leaders and contains a great deal of useful information to a prospective grower.  It is designed to aid you in being a Good Neighbor to other users of the Chesapeake and coastal bays.

We have our Maryland Aquaculture Resource Guide available that contains references to hatcheries and equipment suppliers.  While UM Extension does not endorse or recommend particular vendors, we provide the information to you and advise that you use good business practices in dealing with others.  If you know of others who should be listed in future years, please feel free to contact us.

Also, look for our programs.  We conduct a wide range of educational programs and activities during the year for growers.  These will range from basic information for those thinking of getting into the business to more advanced workshops and short courses that provide existing growers with training for constantly improving their production and business skills.

In June 2010 the ECSGA published its BMP manual, Best Management Practices for the East Coast Shellfish Aquaculture Industry. The BMP project was an industry priority for several years, and was led by the team of Gef Flimlin of Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Sandy Macfarlane of Coastal Resource Specialists, and Edwin Rhodes and Kathleen Rhodes of Aquatecnics LLC. The manual is the final product of 22 workshops with input from hundreds of stakeholders. The work was funded by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agrigulture, the Northeast Regional Aquaculture Center, and NOAA's Office of Aquaculture.
The Aquaculture Resource Guide contains references to hatcheries and equipment suppliers.  While UM Extension does not endorse or recommend particular vendors, we provide the information to you and advise that you use good business practices in dealing with others.  If you know of others who should be listed in future years, please feel free to contact us.
The Maryland Aquaculture Siting Tool is an interactive online map viewer designed to assist industry and resource managers and others in planning and applying for shellfish aquaculture leases or similar projects while minimizing potential conflicts with existing commercial & recreational uses and environmentally sensitive areas. It is meant to help users make more informed decisions regarding the siting of shellfish aquaculture, but does not provide a guarantee that an aquaculture lease will be issued. All lease application materials submitted in conjunction with the use of this mapping tool are subject to complete review through the joint State Federal review process for commercial shellfish aquaculture leasing. This tool is available free of charge; however, all users must register prior to use by completing the form below.
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