Aquaculture Certificate Renewals and Shellfish Harvester Training

All Aquaculture Certificates of Registration (“AQ cards”) will expire on June 30th. Renewal information will be mailed by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), Division of Aquaculture, this includes a preprinted application and notice of $100 fee. Any applicant working with shellfish must complete the Harvester Education Training and submit a copy of their certificate of training along with the application. Applications and fees must be returned by June 30th to avoid a lapse in certification. They may be submitted via mail: FDACS, P.O. Box 6710, Tallahassee, FL 32314-6710, with a check or money order made payable to FDACS. Renewing applicants may submit their application, training certificate, and payment online here. Online renewals must include a signed application and harvester education training certificate. Continue reading

Hatchery Workshop April 26-27 in Cedar Key

A series of workshops is being conducted to address industry issues in the production of shellfish seed. Hatchery operators and personnel are invited to attend. The topic of this workshop is Managing Diseases in the Hatchery through Bacteriological Monitoring. Topics to be presented include: Review of opportunistic bacterial diseases in the hatchery, Supplies and equipment needed for bacterial sampling, Step-by-step procedures to follow for sampling, Where and how often to take samples in the hatchery, Interpretation of results, What the samples mean, Remediation, and How to correct the problem. Sampling kits (media plates, loops, swabs, etc.) will be provided. Presenters include: Susan Laramore PhD,  Aquatic Animal Health Lab, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Florida Atlantic University, Ft. Pierce; and Ruth Francis-Floyd DVM, Aquatic Animal Health Program, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville.

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Florida Sea Grant Shellfish Aquaculture Workshop

Florida Sea Grant developed a new 4-year strategic plan this spring. One of the areas covered in the FSG strategic plan is aquaculture. Not only is shellfish aquaculture an important business sector in Florida, it is unique in that there is a history of dedicated federal funding for research and extension. The aim of this workshop is to help Florida institutions acquire a substantial amount of these funds to use in solving the highest priority issues affecting the shellfish aquaculture industry. Industry members, researchers, and agency representatives can help FSG identify and prioritize these issues in greater detail than what has been done in the strategic plan. The outcome will be a solution-oriented plan that will help to guide research and information needs of the industry.

The workshop will be held on Wednesday, March 1 from 10 AM to 3 PM at the Osceola County Extension Office, located in the Osceola Heritage Park, 1921 Kissimmee Valley Lane, Kissimmee, Florida. Lunch will be provided by Florida Sea Grant.

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Restoration of oyster reefs to enhance Oystercatcher habitat in Cedar Key

To address erosion of oyster reefs used seasonally by American Oystercatchers, the Shellfish Extension Program and Cedar Key Aquaculture Association worked with FWC biologists to apply previously demonstrated restoration techniques at Corrigan’s Reef and Gomez Key. Cedar Key is home to the largest population of wintering Oystercatchers in Florida. Oystercatchers roost on unwooded, high-tide sandbars and oyster reefs. This habit may help Oystercatchers distance themselves from predators associated with wooded areas, such as raccoons and birds of prey. Last summer, 1000 damaged clam bags removed from aquaculture leases were used as bulkhead material at these two sites. Limerock cobbles were added later. Then in January, over 20 volunteers along with UF and FWC folks spread 100 bushels of clam shell collected from processing plants over the boulders. This approach is designed to promote oyster colonization, to resist wave action and tidal erosion, and, ultimately, increase elevation of Oystercatcher roosting habitat. For more information on this and another oyster restoration project in Cedar Key, visit


Red Tide Causes Economic Losses to Southwest Florida Industry

Red tide events are somewhat common to the Southwest (SW) Florida coastal environment. Evidence of such periodic red tides extends many years into the past. Fish kills and disrupted water-dependent activities have been the historic hallmarks of these events, but more recently … a new and growing industry has felt the impact of red tides. Commercial molluscan shellfish culture within the region is often closed, as are natural shellfish beds, when red tides occur within SW Florida.

An extended red tide event occurred during the period from November 2015 through April 2016. The harvest of cultured shellfish (hard clams and sunray venus clams) was significantly disrupted during this period, with the Charlotte Harbor region being closed almost 40% of that time period, while harvest in Tampa Bay region was closed almost 80% of the time. Such closures disrupt business activities for hatcheries, growers and dealers, as well as the other businesses that rely on regional shellfish culture for a large part of their sales and revenue.  At the request of the SW Florida shellfish culture industry, the University of Florida conducted an assessment of the economic consequences to the industry of the 2015-16 red tide event. The industry provided the information and data needed to conduct a formal economic impact analysis that would provide some insight into the negative impact the red tide event had on the SW Florida molluscan shellfish culture industry. Continue reading

Online Shellfish Training Program Available

The Roger Williams University Center for Economic and Environmental Development is now enrolling students for Applied Shellfish Farming, a non-credit course offered during the winter/spring semester that teaches both aspiring shellfish farmers and aquaculture professionals the ins and outs of commercially growing oysters, quahogs, scallops and mussels.

The 14-week program, led by Dale Leavitt, aquaculture extension specialist and Professor of Marine Biology at Roger Williams University, is designed to aid new and experienced shellfish farmers to start or grow their shellfish farming enterprise in Rhode Island and other areas of Southern New England. Topics in the course include: an overview of shellfish farming, shellfish biology, farm site selection, the permitting process and regulatory aspects of securing and maintaining a lease, an overview of shellfish nursery and grow-out systems, risk management strategies, other technical aspects of shellfish farming, and business and marketing management advice. Dr. Leavitt complements the class with mentoring and site visits, remains in contact with many participants, and advises shellfish farmers nationwide.

This year, the course also will be offered as an on-line webinar, available to anyone with Internet access. Dale was a guest speaker at oyster culture workshops held in Florida in 2014; his presentation can be viewed here. He provides practical “hands-on” information that can benefit oyster growers regardless of where their farms are located. More details will be forthcoming on how to sign up for the webinar. For more details on the on-line version, please contact Dale Leavitt at

Dates set for Oyster South Symposium

The Oyster South Symposium (OSS) is being held by Oyster South, Inc. (a non-profit dedicated to advancing oyster aquaculture in the southern US), in collaboration with National Sea Grant, to bring together producers, gear suppliers, distributors, chefs, food writers, vendors, researchers, students and managers from the southeast region to discuss pressing issues and relevant, practical research on oyster aquaculture on January 27-28th, 2017 in Auburn, AL. Registration includes admission to all informational sessions (all day Friday and Saturday morning), all breaks, lunch on Friday, January 27th, the mixer on Friday night, and the trade show. Meeting fees are based on current OS membership and industry role.

For any commercial oyster growers that register to attend, National Sea Grant has provided financial assistance to defray your costs of attending this symposium by at least $150. This benefit is on a first come, first serve basis, so please register early (see link below for updates about when registration will be open). You will be contacted by email with details after you register.

You can get more information here:

You can join Oyster South here:

Next, have your discount code ready and click below to register for the Symposium:

UF/IFAS Researchers to Build Up Ecological ‘Resilience’ in Big Bend

In less than 30 years, 3,000-year-old oyster reefs off Florida’s Big Bend coastline have declined by 88 percent, according to UF/IFAS researchers. For residents who depend on the fishing grounds and other coastal resources protected by these reefs, it’s a worrying trend. Now, thanks to an award of up to $8.3 million from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s  Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, a UF/IFAS research team will work to restore these shrinking oyster reefs and help coastal ecosystems — and economies — become more resilient in the face of climate change and rising tides. “This grant is one more way UF/IFAS can help foster sustainable communities and ecosystems on the Nature Coast,” said Jack Payne, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “This work also dovetails with efforts by our state and local partners to conserve land and water resources in our coastal areas,” he said. “This project, which is more than 10 years in the making, includes listening to local concerns about disappearing reefs, our initial field research, a three-year pilot project and finally a full-scale project,” said Peter Frederick, who is one of the primary investigators for the grant along with Bill Pine and Leslie Sturmer. Frederick and Pine are research and associate professors of wildlife ecology and conservation, respectively, while Sturmer is a UF/IFAS extension agent specializing in molluscan shellfish aquaculture. Continue reading

Oyster Restoration Projects Use Clam Culture By-products

Offshore oyster reefs along the Big Bend coast of Florida have declined by 88% during the last 30 years, with the most likely mechanism being repeated die-offs due to predation and disease during high salinity periods, driven by episodic and increasing periods of reduced freshwater input to estuaries. These die-off events have led to a conversion from shell to sandbar substrate and rapid loss of elevation (about 3 inches per year). This process appears to be nonreversible, because oyster spat are unable to colonize sandy substrate. A pilot project conducted by University of Florida researchers and funded by grants from The Nature Conservancy, NOAA, and Florida Sea Grant was recently completed in which the assumption that oyster populations on these reefs are limited by substrate was evaluated. Durable hard substrate was placed at the Lone Cabbage Reef complex off Levy County to determine if reefs can become more resilient to periodic declines in freshwater flow by providing a persistent settlement site for naturally occurring oyster larvae. Durable substrate was added in the form of limerock cobbles and about 400 recycled clam aquaculture bags filled with cultch, live oysters, and associated fauna to eight paired treatment and control sites spaced along the highly degraded offshore reef chain. Continue reading

10-Year NOAA Sea Grant Aquaculture Vision

For nearly 50 years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP) has invested in the development of sustainable marine aquaculture businesses. Sea Grant will likely be investing $50 to $100 million in aquaculture research and technology transfer over the next 10 years. A clear vision will help guide strategic investments to support and expand the aquaculture industry. In March 2016, the Sea Grant Association established a committee to develop a 10-year vision for aquaculture investments by NOAA’s NSGCP. The purpose of this 10-year vision is to (1) determine Sea Grant’s most appropriate roles over the next 10 years, and (2) identify priority research and outreach strategies leading to sustainable economic development, environmental, conservation and social well-being. Continue reading