Improving Oyster Aquaculture in Rhode Island: Development and Testing of the "Rhodoyster"

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2007: $127,254.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Northeast
State: Rhode Island
Project Leader:
Dr. Marta Gomez-Chiarri
University of Rhode Island

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: rapeseed


  • Animal Production: preventive practices
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Pest Management: genetic resistance

    Proposal abstract:

    Oyster aquaculture is the largest segment of aquaculture in southern New England. In Rhode Island, 25 farmers generate 97% of production with a value of almost $750,000. The highest risk on oyster farms is disease. To counter this, strains of oysters resistant to several major diseases have been developed through selective breeding. However, few of these strains are of New England origin or have been tested in local conditions. We are in the process of completing testing the performance of two disease resistant oyster strains and a local Rhode Island strain on three Rhode Island farms. The next logical step in the process is to develop and test strains of oysters with disease resistance and well adapted to local growing conditions. The goal of this project is to stimulate the growth of the oyster aquaculture industry in southern New England by developing the Rhodoyster, a disease-resistant strain well-adapted to local growing conditions, and engaging at least 25 of 200 oyster farmers in Rhode Island in testing the performance of this and other oyster disease-resistant strains. Direct participation of farmers in strain testing, combined with outreach and extension activities that include on-site training and workshops on best management practices and health management, will allow us to reach the performance target set forth below.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    By the end of this project, the development of a new strain well-suited to the Rhode Island region will be initiated. Eleven of the 200 farmers in the Rhode Island region will adopt at least one of the following practices:

    1) using more than one strain in their farms, therefore potentially avoiding catastrophic losses due to disease (increased diversification);

    2) using at least one strain that is disease-resistant and well-adapted to local conditions, leading to a 10% increase in yield.

    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.