Maine Family Sea Farm Cooperative Hatchery

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2021: $14,795.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2024
Grant Recipient: Butterfield Shellfish
Region: Northeast
State: Maine
Project Leader:
Keith Butterfield
Butterfield Shellfish


  • Animals: shellfish


  • Animal Production: aquaculture

    Proposal summary:

    Given Maine's legislature, importing oyster seed is discouraged, and requires special permission from the state. There are only two viable suppliers of oyster seed, and in recent years, they have both seen increasing volatility in their spawning success. The variability in access to seed has led to revenue losses for farmers.

    The MFSF cooperative will build a small hatchery in the Summer and Fall of 2021. For each subsequent Winter, the cooperative will spawn and settle between one and ten million oyster spat, and upwell them to 8mm. By September, they will be transferred to the constituents' farms, and monitored monthly until reaching a market size. After proving the viability of a small scale floating hatchery, Keith Butterfield and Thomas Henninger will record growth and survival rates of each year's oyster spat. The same metrics will be recorded for oyster seed from either licensed hatchery, and compared to the locally spawned seed. 

    We will know if a small scale hatchery is a viable solution for farmers' concerns over seed. Key deliverables of this project include the blueprints for the floating hatchery, a readable guide to operations, and a feasibility report. The findings will be aggregated into a 10 page brochure for wide distribution. This project's outreach methods include a direct mailing list entailing all Maine oyster farmers, as well as a feature on the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association Website. Finally, a powerpoint presentation will be given to three aquaculture courses offered by CEI and the Island Institute.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The question we will answer is whether a small scale hatchery is a viable solution to concerns regarding access to oyster seed. This project will report on the three elements of success for a small scale hatchery to improve the durability of farmer's profits. The results will be turned into a 10 page/slide brochure, and powerpoint presentation for distribution. 

    1) design and construction

    2) operation

    3) feasibility

    The first objective is to build the hatchery, and document blueprints, materials list and methodology. The second objective will be to successfully spawn and settle at least one million oysters per year. This project will provide a readable, twelve step guide for farmers, assessing the basics of hatchery operations, with reference to the existing and advanced methodology. The third, and most important objective is to assess feasibility, created from the three financial statements. By assessing the financial and technical viability, this project will remove the largest of unknowns for interested farmers. Although the results of this project will be relevant to all oyster farmers, it will be cold water aquaculturists that are the primary beneficiaries. The project's results will be aggregated into a 10 page brochure.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.