The Morgan State University Estuarine Research Center (ERC) has completed construction of its new oyster hatchery. The hatchery was configured within an existing laboratory space at the ERC and is capable of producing larvae as well as spat-on-shell and cultchless spat. The hatchery will utilize native oysters to support local aquaculture through research and production. Larvae produced from the hatchery will be used as part of the ERC program to create a more stable, sustainable aquaculture oyster industry. The project is a joint effort between Morgan State University and the Calvert County Waterman's Association.
The hatchery will be used as the basis for technology transfer, training and support for the local aquaculture industry. The training will provide technical guidance to help the transfer the hatchery technology into the oyster industry. This hatchery concept requires low capitalization and is designed as a retrofit into the industry's existing infrastructure.
Economic Development Program
To help prevent economic collapse of the economies of local communities that are dependent on oysters, we have developed a pilot program to help find market-based solutions to replenish the population of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. This pilot program is a partnership between Morgan State University and the Calvert County Watermen's Association. In the program the watermen place hatchery-produced product on leased bottom that they control. The watermen will harvest the oysters and use the revenue to buy more larvae for planting. The development of a mechanism to produce revenue on a more predictable schedule will help stabilize a declining industry and provide the means to sustain the social and cultural foundation of many communities.
The hatchery is a 616 sq. ft. facility that consists of a brood stock holding and conditioning area, spawning and larvae growing areas, and an algae growing room. The hatchery has a flow through seawater system with both raw and filtered water from the Patuxent River. The ERC's existing outdoor microhabitat tanks will be used for spat setting. The hatchery contains eight 3,200 liter fiberglass tanks, four tanks for algae growth and four for larvae production. The brood stock holding tanks are serviced by a 48,000-watt, 480-volt heater and an 18,000 BTU/hr chiller for temperature control to condition the oysters for spawning. The algal room has 48-20 liter carboys for algae transfer and 12-240 liter Kalwalls for algae production. There is a laminar flow hood, autoclave and carbon dioxide injection system. As part of the ERC's commitment to environmentally responsible operations, the algae room was retrofitted with LED lights.
Funding for the development and initial operation of the hatchery is provided by a congressional appropriation and is administered by the Chesapeake Bay Program Office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).