Sugar kelp and triploid oyster production to promote sustainable integrated multitrophic aquaculture

2013 Annual Report for FNE13-790

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2013: $14,970.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Dr. Daniel Ward
Ward Aquafarms, LLC

Sugar kelp and triploid oyster production to promote sustainable integrated multitrophic aquaculture


The current project has two distinct, though complementary aspects; evaluate growing triploid oysters in North Falmouth, MA, and investigate growing sugar kelp in Massachusetts state waters. Diane Murphy has been very helpful as a technical advisor, and has been in contact with me throughout the project. Our farm is essentially the same as when the project was proposed, although we have expanded our farming capabilities. We now own a 24’ working barge with davit and winch, we have switched from a “bag and cage” system, to all bagless cages, and we now have an upweller and the site where the upweller is located permitted for oyster culture. We have also proposed to the state of Massachusetts to expand our farm to 10 acres, from the current 2.6 acres, and that application is still pending.

Objectives/Performance Targets


In the summer of 2013 we were able to complete the oyster aspect of the project, in which we evaluated five different strains of oysters. The plan was to compare four different strains of oysters: diploid Muscongus and triploid Muscongus, diploid Mook and triploid Mook. However, while Muscongus planned to produce “NEH disease resistant” triploids, there was an issue in the broodstock facility in NJ, and there were no tetraploid broodstock from which to produce NEH triploids in 2013. We were able to modify the objective, and purchase both diploid and triploid oyster seed from Aquacultural Research Corp. (Dennis, MA) instead, which both arrived at the same time in June, and allowed us to still make the proposed evaluation of the culture technique. We purchased diploid seed from Muscongus from our own funds, which only added to the comparison for the project by adding another seed type. Mook Sea Farms Inc. was able to supply us with diploid and triploid oyster seed in May 2013, however, there was an issue with the triploid seed. The triploid seed would not grow, and was off-colored compared to all of the other seed. After 30 days of little to no growth, we were sent a second shipment of 100,000 triploid oysters to replace the first, and this shipment was much better. However, due to two different shipping dates, the comparison is not exact, but we were able to quantify survival and growth across all strains of oyster seed. The seed was put into the upweller and tracked for survival and growth from May through September.


We started work on the kelp aspect of the project in September, and that work is ongoing. We were able to source mature sorus tissue through Ocean Approved in Portland, ME in October, and we had a successful spore release and set onto longlines in late October. While the seed spools were setting in the nursery, all longlines, moorings, end buoys and associated equipment was being installed on the site. In early December, the kelp was done growing the in nursery, and the longlines were installed at the site. All of the work went as planned, and the kelp appears to be progressing well. There were two modifications to the kelp plan as proposed: the state of Massachusetts restricted the amount we could grow to a total of 1000’ instead of 5000’. Due to the fact that the regulations to not exist to grow seaweed commercially in MA, we are operating under a research permit from the MA Division of Marine Fisheries. Therefore, since we are experimenting, we are not allowed to operate at a commercial scale (5000’ according to MA DMF). Instead of the proposed five, 1000’ longlines, we have five, 200’ longlines. The second modification, is that instead of putting out all 1000’ from our nursery, we put out four, 200’ longlines from our nursery, and then purchased the additional 200’ from the University of Connecticut sugar kelp nursery. Dr. Charles Yarish developed the techniques which we proposed, and has been producing seed spools for sale for the past two years. We purchased one longline from him, in addition to producing our own to hedge our bets, and ensure that we would have a product to harvest, even if our nursery phase was not successful. We believe the product that came out of the nursery will do well at the growout site, however, if for some reason it does not do very well, there is the “commercial” seed spool string from UCONN to serve as a comparison.


The project which we proposed was more exploratory into culture options, and not as much about solving a particular problem. The work we did with triploid oysters was very encouraging, and we plan on expanding our triploid production in 2014, due almost entirely to the results of the 2013 NE SARE project. We also hope to expand our seaweed production in 2014, given the encouraging results of the kelp work in the 2013 NE SARE project so far. Given that the regulations to produce kelp commercially do not exist in MA, we have met with MA state Representatives, and are working with them to draft legislation to allow commercial culture to expand in Massachusetts. This collaboration never would have taken place without the NE SARE project, and we hope to expand the number of farms producing seaweeds in MA in 2014.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes


Diane Murphy

[email protected]
Fisheries and Aquaculture Specialist
Cape Cod Coop. Extension and Woods Hole Sea Grant
PO Box 367
Barnstable, MA 02630
Office Phone: 5083756953