Subtidal Shellfish Aquaculture

In 2010, the Fisheries Research Program provided technical support to the Cape Cod towns of Truro and Provincetown in order to identify subtidal areas suitable for aquaculture development. Data were gathered on habitat type and existing uses and combined with sustainable aquaculture site selection criteria and the biological requirements of the species to be grown in order to map areas in the waters of each town that were designated as Aquaculture Development Areas, or ADAs, large enough to contain multiple grow-out sites for use by individual farmers. This effort was supported by the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program.

Left: shellfish farmers Rick Macara and John Baldwin conducting underwater surveys; right: oysters grown using experimental gear in the Truro ADA

In 2014, shellfish farmers in Provincetown and Truro began growing oysters in a 50-acre community subtidal aquaculture development area (ADA) in the nearshore waters of Cape Cod Bay. Oysters are being grown in bags on the bottom or in floating cages and other experimental techniques and species have been proposed for farming in the ADA. CCS has partnered with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to study oyster growth using different methods and to develop methods to reduce the potential for entanglement of marine animals in floating aquaculture gear. This research was supported by the NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy and Bycatch Reduction Engineering Programs.