SEAWEED AND OYSTER FARMS
In the last year or so the New England oyster aquaculture community has witnessed a ballooning of educational opportunities on the subject of seaweed farming. Every farmer seeks multiple crops if for no other reason than to reduce the financial risk of an individual crop failure. For example, many farmers in Wellfleet, currently also raise clams.
Some seaweed has the advantage of a winter growth season that is short and dovetails nicely with the active summer months when oyster nurseries demand labor and attention. If both oysters and seaweed can be grown in the same lease area, the farmer can also physically dovetail the crops making more profitable use of leased property.
To compete with foreign aquaculture products, the U.S. farmers must find such ways to increase their output. They must also find lucrative high end markets that will pay more for the same produce. More to the point for the general community at large, if both seaweed farming and oyster farming have a positive overall ecological and bioremedial benefit for the environment they occupy, it is a win, win situation.
The following slide show is the summary of survey data taken from September 9 -13, 2013. Survey participants were all anonymous volunteers of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association (ECSGA) LISTServ - a free online information service of the ECSGA. The purpose was to assess the general interest in seaweed farming within the oyster farming community. Only a few states have regulations in place that permit the possibility of seaweed farming. Some states only permit harvesting of wild seaweed. Research into the viability of combining oyster farming and seaweed farming is also underway on a limited scale. There is currently great enthusiasm about the potential for raising seaweed, especially in New England. These survey results appear to justify the enthusiasm. [Click on the small numbered boxes below to view the slides.]