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Maryland Aquaculture Leases Produce Record Yield of Oysters in 2023

Maryland’s growing shellfish aquaculture operations harvested a record 94,286 bushels of oysters in 2023, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources reported.  “Though the shellfish aquaculture harvest is small in comparison to the public fishery, it is growing steadily and the farmer’s product is available throughout the year,” said Brian R. Callam, Ph.D., director of DNR’s Aquaculture and Industry Enhancement Division. In Maryland, shellfish farming businesses can hold submerged land leases (growing shellfish directly on the seafloor) and/or water column leases (growing shellfish in cages or other containers in the water). Maryland currently leases 7,478 acres of state waters to 466 commercial shellfish operations. Of that total, 6,964.32 acres is for submerged land leases and 514.16 acres of water column leases. In 2023, submerged land leases yielded 66.6 percent of the harvest, and water column leases accounted for 33.4% of the total 2023 harvest. The state’s farmed oyster harvest total for 2023 surpassed the 2022 total of 94,257 bushels. By comparison, the state’s public oyster fishery by comparison harvested 548,558 bushels during its 2021-2022 season and 722,850 bushels in the 2022-2023 season. The estimated economic impact of Maryland’s shellfish aquaculture is more than $13 million per year. Anyone interested in learning more […]

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