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Delaware’s shellfish aquaculture program gets going

It was a long time coming but Delaware’s shellfish aquaculture program has officially kicked off with the planting of the first oyster seeds in Sussex County’s Rehoboth Bay.


May 22, 2018
By Liza Mayer
The planting of the first shipment of oyster seeds in Delaware's Rehoboth Bay marks the official start of the state's shellfish aquaculture program

The idea for the state’s shellfish aquaculture program was born in 2012. “We see this as a significant first step in the development of the new shellfish aquaculture industry,” said Shawn M. Garvin, Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, which administers the program.

“We are making great strides in the Inland Bays in improving water quality and the ecology, and shellfish aquaculture contributes to achieving those goals. It is very encouraging to see this first seeding of what will become the foundation for commercially-grown oysters and hard clams in Delaware,” Garvin added.

Aside from the leaseholder that made the initial planting of the oyster seeds, the program has so far received 23 lease applications, the department said. Applications for shellfish aquaculture leasing are continuously being accepted and evaluated by the Division of Fish & Wildlife.

The new shellfish aquaculture program is expected to boost Delaware’s economy. Oysters planted this spring will be available for sale in a year or two.