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Evaluating Whether Oyster Aquaculture Can Help Restore Water Quality

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For coastal communities, such as those on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, water quality and the overall health of coastal systems has been deteriorating due to nitrogen pollution, which can come from septic systems, fertilizers, and atmospheric deposition. Towns along Cape Cod are under pressure to improve coastal water quality, but many approaches are very costly, such as developing centralized sewer treatment infrastructure for homes that currently have septic systems. A number of towns are exploring the use of various shellfish aquaculture systems to remediate water quality.

About this resource

This project overview describes how a 2017-2021 Collaborative Research project at the Waquoit Bay Reserve in Massachusetts addressed a critical information gap identified by water quality managers and regulators: How much nitrogen is removed from coastal waters by common oyster aquaculture methods, and what culturing practices should be adopted to maximize benefits for water quality? The overview fact sheet outlines the project approach, key findings, products and outcomes.