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Environmental Benefits of Shellfish Aquaculture

  • Shellfish aquaculture is a sustainable and green industry.
  • Shellfish harvest helps to improve sediment quality by loosening and dispersing silt and muck, and helps add oxygen to bottom waters and sediments.
  • Oysters can filter 100 gallons of seawater in a single day as part of their natural feeding process. Shellfish feed on phytoplankton, but can also accumulate marine biotoxins, chemical contaminants, and pathogenic microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, effectively removing them from the water column.
  • Shellfish improve water quality and clarity by removing particulates, excess nutrients, organic material, viruses, and bacteria from the water column. Improved water clarity enhances habitat for sea grasses such as eelgrass and other submerged aquatic vegetation.
  • Shellfish help control harmful algal blooms, such as red tide, by removing algal cells before they accumulate to harmful levels.
  • Shellfish beds provide critical ecosystem functions by creating structure and habitat for other species such as crabs, worms, and juvenile fish, that provide a food source for fish and other marine species. The nooks and crannies in oyster beds create 50 times the surface area of an equally sized expanse of flat bottom.
  • Shellfish beds stabilize sediments, helping to protect the shoreline from erosion.
  • Shellfish remove nitrogen from the environment that is removed when the animals are harvested.