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Aquaculture

Sustainable Aquaculture at Marinetics, The Choptank Oyster Company

We all know that The Chesapeake bay is in trouble. Its health has been in decline ever since man moved to its shores in great numbers to enjoy its natural beauty and bounty. It is a bounty that is steadily shrinking. The oyster population is at a small fraction of what it once was.

The effort to remove oysters from the water for human consumption has far surpassed the ability of the oysters to naturally replenish their numbers. It has also surpassed any expensive human efforts to put oysters back into the water. At Marinetics, we believe one possible solution to this problem is oyster aquaculture.

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How can oyster aquaculture help save the Chesapeake Bay?

We are a sustainable industry. We put as many, if not more, oysters into the water as we take out.

Our sustainably produced aquacultured product helps fill the consumer demand for oysters, thereby reducing the fishing pressure on the wild oyster population.

We grow only oysters that are native to the Chesapeake Bay. There is no risk  that we will introduce an invasive nonnative species into the Bay’s delicate ecosystem.

As oysters feed they act as natural filters, removing massive amounts of micro-algae and silt from the water.  A single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day. We have several million healthy oysters growing in the bay helping to filter the water.

Each year our oysters spawn, just as wild oysters do, producing billions of oyster larvae to help replenish natural oyster populations. A single spawning female can produce as many as 10 million eggs.

In addition to their natural spawn, surplus oysters spawned at our hatchery are available for oyster restoration projects.

Our oyster floats serve as a floating oyster reef, providing habitat to many of the fish and invertebrate species that would inhabit a natural oyster reef.

Marinetics is supported by profits from selling our product, not by taxpayers.

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Oyster aquaculture has been used, in one form or another, for literally 2 millennia. The Romans cultured oysters in Britain and transported them to Italy. The French oyster industry has relied on aquaculture since the late 18th Century. Aquaculture may not be the only solution to the problems surrounding oyster populations in the Chesapeake Bay, but performed prudently it may be a start and, we firmly believe it can help.

Why do we grow our oysters on the surface?

Surface Cultured Oysters

Surface Cultured Oysters

  • Oysters stay cleaner and do not contain “grit”
  • Due to ample light penetration, there is a high availability of micro-algal food for optimal oyster growth
  • Wave action insures oxygenation of surface water
  • Disease processes (Dermo & MSX) are absent
  • Low observed mortality rate of 4%
  • Growth to minimum market size (3”) in 18-24 months.

Bottom Cultured Oysters

Bottom Cultured Oysters

  • Oysters are less aesthetically appealing and contain “grit”
  • Silt at the bottom increases food handling times making it more difficult for oysters to feed
  • Low levels of sunlight at the bottom, restricts the amount of micro-algal food available
  • Disease processes are resident
  • High mortality rates of >75%
  • Growth to market size: 3 years minimum, if they survive