Updated: March 7, 2022

The “Oyster Team” working to build our industry includes:

  • University of Maryland Extension
  • University of Maryland Horn Point Laboratory
  • University of Maryland Eastern Shore
  • Maryland Departments of:
    • Natural Resources
    • Health and Mental Hygiene
    • Agriculture
    • Environment
    • Commerce
  • Maryland Agriculture and Resource Based Industries Development Corporation
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Natural Resource Conservation Service
  • Philip E. and Carole R. Radcliffe Foundation
  • Oyster Recovery Partnership


University of Maryland Extension has conducted quality educational programs for aquaculture development for over four decades. These have included outreach training for the production of finfish, shellfish and aquatic plants. Our longest running programs have encouraged the production of oysters and clams, which are important resources for economic growth, employment and the environment.

We partner with many agencies, institutions and NGOs to support industry development. When state laws were revised to encourage shellfish aquaculture in 2009, a series of programs were put in place to form an “Oyster Team” to provide critical services to the industry. The Oyster Aquaculture Education and Training Program was initiated by UM Extension to provide educational products and services for technical training to spur industry growth. Initially funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the program is now supported by the Philip E. and Carole R. Radcliffe Foundation and the Oyster Recovery Partnership to build entrepreneurship for the expansion of our shellfish industry. To date, oyster aquaculture is thriving and becoming an increasingly important part of our seafood industry by supplying many new markets with high quality products.

We urge you to visit our website and our Maryland Aquaculture Facebook page for the latest information about our programs, products and services. We offer a range of evening and day-long workshops as well as in-depth short courses and other educational events that are designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to help you enter this industry and develop the expertise needed for success.


Business Planning and Management

Business Planning for Shellfish Growers

For course information contact: Matt Parker or Don Webster

Good planning can help you get your business going, be used to obtain financing and keep your operation running for optimum profitability. We’ll go through business start-ups and factors that are needed to address during formation. Then we’ll go step by step through development of a business plan that can be used to identify areas for improvement. Financial lenders require a proper business plan prior to making loans so putting together a strong one can help with that important aspect of business formation. We’ll use the spreadsheet programs that we’ve developed especially for shellfish aquaculture and show you how to use them as important tools to track the fitness of your business and manage it to get the most profit from it. Feel free to bring your personal laptop or you can arrange to use one of ours for the program.

Marketing and Sales for Shellfish Growers

For course information contact: Matt Parker or Don Webster

One of the most important aspects of building a shellfish aquaculture business is identifying your markets prior to getting into production. This is not only a recommended practice but a critical one. As we know - you don’t make money raising oysters; you make money by selling them. We’ll bring together speakers to provide you with information on how to assess a variety of options for selling your shellfish to determine what buyers want and how to reach desired markets. From branding to packaging and transportation, important decisions must be made that will affect the profit in your business. You will learn about how to cultivate relationships with potential buyers and determine what they want while generating sales, keeping customers and assessing directions for the future of your shellfish aquaculture operation.

Internet and Social Media for Marketing Your Business

For course information contact: Matt Parker or Don Webster

The internet and social media offer many opportunities for a grower to get information about his or her farm and product to potential consumers. Whether you market oysters yourself of use a broker, people want to know more about you, your company and its products. Join us for an evening with our colleague Dennis McIntosh of Delaware State University, who will show you the benefits of advertising your company using the internet and social media and walk you through the process of creating your own free web page. Bring your laptop computer or you can borrow one of ours for this interesting program.

Tax Management for Aquaculture

For course information contact: Matt Parker or Don Webster

Aquaculture is agriculture and growers can profit by using many agricultural tax benefits. Join us for this workshop where we discuss aspects of state and federal tax structure that can affect your bottom line. We’ll have a tax expert on hand to answer your questions and provide you with suggestions for how to minimize your taxable income and treat a variety of business decision to enhance the bottom line in your shellfish aquaculture business.

Managing Risk in Shellfish Aquaculture

For course information contact: Matt Parker or Don Webster

Shellfish aquaculture is a risky business. Weather, disease and other factors can affect profitable production. We’ll show you how to minimize risk by a variety of methods including business types, liability and crop insurance and other factors that provide you with information to help enhance the profitability of your shellfish business.


Oyster Aquaculture Courses

Producing Cultchless Oyster Seed

CONTACT: Shannon Hood

A workshop demonstrating production of individual seed that includes downwellers for setting larvae on microcultch and upwellers for nursery production until larvae is large enough to plant. Growers will learn to prepare and set up units and handle larvae for successful production, as well as aspects that can cause production problems. Email Shannon Hood for updates. shood@umces.edu

Remote Setting Training Program- Statewide Workshop

LOCATION: Statewide

CONTACT: Shannon Hood

A statewide training program in Remote Setting technology for shellfish growers with submerged land leases seeking to understand how to set larvae to seed their leases. Held at convenient locations throughout the state, the demonstration will discuss the design and operation of a successful setting system and demonstrate how to handle and introduce larval oysters to the tanks, manage them during setting and handle them afterwards. Email Shannon Hood for updates shood@umces.edu.

Water Column Production Field Demonstration

LOCATION: University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Horn Point Lab, Cambridge MD

CONTACT: Shannon Hood

A demonstration oyster farm has been installed at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Lab, so prospective growers can see and gain experience from a variety of culture equipment designed for water column leases. Units include bottom cages, midwater gear and surface floats that are being used in a variety of production and applied research projects. Attendees learn about gear types, mooring techniques, seed options and growing cultchless seed in nursery systems. Includes land and water based demonstrations for conducting successful oyster aquaculture operations. Email Shannon Hood for updates shood@umces.edu.

Data for Decisions

LOCATION: UM Wye Research & Education Center, Queenstown MD

CONTACT: Don Webster

Efficient management of an oyster farm requires data for tracking survival and growth. Using that data allows you to better understand your farm and make decisions for profitable operation. We will show you how to sample oysters to determine which seed is growing better or which grounds are better suited for production. We’ll discuss common problems found in taking data, use measurements to illustrate how to analyze it to operate more successfully and demonstrate practical aspects of managing your business with science rather than observation and opinion.

Understanding Oyster Disease

LOCATION: UM Horn Point Lab, Cambridge MD

CONTACT: Don Webster 

Oyster diseases such as MSX and Dermo are with us to stay. Understanding them and how they work, as well as what conditions cause epizootics resulting in severe mortality of oysters, is necessary to manage your stocks. We’ll discuss the diseases and the current status of them in the bays and relate that to managing animals to make decisions when problems arise. The Oyster Recovery Partnership offers free disease testing for Dermo to leaseholders through the University of Maryland’s Paynter Lab. If you have taken advantage of this service, please bring your results and we can show you how to read and use them in your business.

Understanding Sidescan SONAR Charts of Your Lease

LOCATION: UM Wye Research & Education Center, Queenstown MD

CONTACT: Don Webster

Side-scan sonar offers a way to visualize your lease and understand the contours and geographical features on it including the hard and soft areas that can lead to higher on-bottom seed survival. We will discuss the resulting charts and how to read them, as well as the advantages of mapping your grounds to determine their status. If you have charts of your lease that have been completed, you are invited to bring them to discuss and learn more about the bottom areas you are growing oysters on. The Oyster Recovery Partnership offers side-scan mapping services – the service is free to first time leaseholders.

Understanding Oyster Pests and Predators

CONTACT: Shannon Hood

Many organisms are part of the oyster community. Some are harmless to oysters but others can damage them or affect their looks to consumers, leading to issues with marketability. We’ll show you how to identify many of the common organisms that are found in the Bay and ways to protect your crop from negative impacts. Email Shannon Hood for updates shood@umces.edu.


Seafood HACCP Safety Courses

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state regulations require seafood processors to conduct a hazard analysis, develop and implement a HACCP plan, a seafood safety management program to identify, control, and monitor all significant food safety hazards during entire seafood processing operations. An essential part of the FDA regulation requires HACCP training. As a certified Seafood HACCP trainer, Dr. Chengchu “Cathy” Liu has offered and co-taught different specialized seafood HACCP courses recognized by the FDA and state food safety authorities.

For  more information on UME's Seafood HACCP courses contact: Cathy Liu or Laurie Arnold

Basic Seafood HACCP Course

The Seafood HACCP Basic Course is a three-day course accredited by the National Seafood HACCP Alliance for Training and Education (SHA) in cooperation with the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO). SHA and AFDO training courses feature compliance with the prevailing seafood safety regulations mandated by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The goal of the courses is to assist participants to meet the training requirements established under the FDA mandatory Seafood HACCP regulation.

This course is a must for individuals who need to demonstrate compliance with the training requirements of the FDA, state health departments and regulatory agencies. Anyone involved in seafood handling, processing, packing, storing, transportation and distribution is encouraged to attend this course. During this course, participants will review HACCP principles, the FDA HACCP regulation, and the FDA Seafood Hazards Guidance (https://www.fda.gov/food/seafood-guidance-documents-regulatory-information/fish-and-fishery-products-hazards-and-controls). Participants will also work in groups to conduct a Hazard Analysis and develop a HACCP plan for a model seafood business assigned by the instructors. By completing this accredited course, participants will receive a certificate of course completion from AFDO that satisfies the FDA Seafood HACCP Regulation training requirements (21 CFR 123.10).

Follow this link to learn more about Cornell University's online Basic Seafood HACCP Course

Seafood HACCP Segment Two Course

The Seafood HACCP Segment Two Course is a one-day practical course accredited by SHA and AFDO. This course provides a “standardized curriculum” recognized by the FDA and is taught by trained instructors. Participants must first complete the online Seafood HACCP Segment One Course  offered by Cornell University in order to attend the HACCP Segment Two course. Attendees will be able to ask questions, get assistance, and apply what they have learned in the Segment One course. By completing this accredited course, participants will receive a certificate of course completion from AFDO that satisfies the FDA Seafood HACCP Regulation training requirements (21 CFR 123.10).

Seafood Sanitation Control Procedures

The Seafood SCP Course is a one-day course accredited by SHA and AFDO. This course provides a “standardized curriculum” recognized by the FDA and is taught by trained instructors. By completing this course, participants will receive a certificate of course completion from AFDO.

HACCP for Shellfish Shippers/Dealers

The HACCP for Shellfish Shippers is a one-day course jointly created and offered by University of Maryland Extension and Maryland Department of Health (MDH). This course is a must for Maryland shellfish shippers and dealers for obtaining their business licenses. By completing this course, participants will receive a certificate of course completion from MDH to demonstrate compliance with the training requirements of HACCP.

HACCP Aquaculture Course (coming soon)

The HACCP-Aquaculture Course will be a new HACCP program for processing aquaculture products. This new program is being developed by SHA in cooperation with AFDO. The course will feature required controls for the critical control point of ‘product receiving’ from aquaculture farming operations. 

For a general review of aquacultured seafood, visit the FDA's Aquacultured Seafood website: https://www.fda.gov/food/seafood-guidance-documents-regulatory-information/aquacultured-seafood.


East Coast Commercial Fisherman's and Aquaculture Trade Show

For trade show information go to: Maryland Watermen's Association, or contact Don Webster

Speakers cover areas of interest to Mid Atlantic shellfish growers with speakers and topics to be determined based on industry input and surveys. The show will be in its 43th year and we expect a large crowd of growers to attend. An entry fee is required to attend the Expo but the seminar program is included with show registration and there are numerous exhibitors with equipment and supplies of interest to growers. Check with the contact or visit the Maryland Watermen’s Association website for the latest information on the show.

Northeast Aquaculture Conference and Expo

For conference information go to: Northeast Aquaculture Conference and Exposition

NACE is a biennial conference and trade show supported by several organizations in the United States and Canada as well as the USDA funded Northeastern Regional Aquaculture Center, and is held in New England states. NACE is three days long and includes many seminars with practical information for growers and a chance to interact with growers from other states. For the most up to date information on registration, lodging and program schedule, check the website.

Virginia Aquaculture Conference

For conference information go to: Virginia Aquaculture Conference

The biennial Virginia Aquaculture Conference hosted by the Marine Advisory Program at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science provides an opportunity for the aquaculture industry to learn about current and upcoming issues, explore new developments in culture technology, and network with other growers, researchers, agency staff and aquaculture suppliers.

North Carolina Aquaculture Development Conference

For conference information go to: North Carolina Aquaculture Development Conference

This conference is designed to bring together the general public, current and prospective fish farmers, scientists, and personnel from regulatory agencies to share information and ideas about the development of aquaculture. Anyone with an interest in fish or shellfish farming, including prospective growers, researchers, teachers, students or agency persons with jobs related to aquaculture. The conference is also suited to persons who sell goods or services to the aquaculture industry. 

Oyster South Symposium

For symposium information go to: Oyster South/events

The Oyster South Symposium is a meeting to bring together producers, gear suppliers, distributors, chefs, food writers, vendors, researchers, students and managers from the southeast region to discuss pressing issues and relevant, practical research on oyster aquaculture. This meeting is intended for industry members and intends to give good hands-on, practical information.