Can Oyster Aquaculture Help Restore Coastal Water Quality?

Webinar Summary Resource
May 2021

Webinar Description

Excess nitrogen in coastal waters can lead to a variety of problems, including algal blooms, fish kills and beach closures, but there aren’t easy solutions. In Massachusetts, towns along Cape Cod have been exploring the use of non-traditional methods for meeting nitrogen reduction requirements, such as establishing shellfish aquaculture operations in coastal waters. This webinar featured a research project that addressed critical information gaps identified by water quality managers and regulators - specifically the needs to quantify the nitrogen removal rates of commercial shellfish growing practices, and to identify best practices for siting and maintaining aquaculture operations that maximize benefits for water quality.  

In partnership with the Town of Falmouth, the project team studied the microbial communities and measured nitrogen fluxes in the sediment below three popular systems for growing oysters. They found that all three growing systems increased rates of denitrification and enhanced nitrogen removal, but aquaculture projects need to be carefully sited for best results. To share their findings, the team developed a best practices guide for growers, an eight-part video series to help inform local and regional planning boards, and signs and a demonstration site to help school groups and reserve visitors learn more about shellfish aquaculture.

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