Patuxent Environmental & Aquatic Research Laboratory
The shellfish aquaculture industry has continued to grow in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay over the past decade. Howver, the industry is currently entirely focused on a single species, the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica). Much of the area available for aquaculture in this region can be characterized as lower salinity, and although oysters can survive here, they have faster growth in higher salinity water. These areas of the Chesapeake Bay also experience years with heavy rainfall which decreases the salinity and can cause mortality to oyster populations. This monoculture practice also leaves the oyster industry vulnerable to disease, climate change, and market fluctuations which pose threats to sustainable industry growth. To address these issues, the PEARL aquaculture team has developed several shellfish breeding programs with the goals of 1) improving the oysters’ performance in low salinity waters through genetic breeding approaches; and 2) developing breeding and culture technologies for new farmable species that are adapted to Maryland’s low salinity waters.
Picture Caption: Principal Investigator Dr. Ming Liu (right) with Facilities
Manager Jon Farrington (left) and ResearchTechnician Leigh Wolfe-Bryant
(middle) deploying aquaculture gear in the river.