The Coastal Federation is the proud new owner of our very own oyster farm demonstration site at the Wanchese office. The half-acre site is set up in Broad Creek just outside of the office, and includes eight rows of pvc pipe that are staked into the ground, strung together with rope, which hold bags of growing oysters.
Though this venture, the Coastal Federation has joined the state in its goal of increasing oyster farming to a $100 M industry by 2030 as outlined in the State’s Strategic Mariculture Plan. Oyster farming is currently about a $20 M industry.
One way we are working toward this goal is by holding demonstrations and educating people about oyster farming techniques. A variety of oyster gear is on display at the site, including floating bags and floating cages which are currently home to 2,000 oysters. Each bag holds about 100 oysters. Volunteers, like high school intern Gabe Long, helped sort and count the oysters before they were set out in the water to grow.
Later this spring the Coastal Federation will install “hex” cages and “oyster grow pro” cages to demonstrate additional oyster grow out techniques. We will also be adding oyster seed to the lease in late May or early June. Oyster seed are juvenile stage oysters that are grown at an oyster nursery.
Oyster demonstration site operator Ray Delvillar regularly monitors the lease for any damage after high wind events. He also takes water quality measurements including water temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen as part of the research occurring at the site.
In the future, a floating work platform will be installed alongside the dock to aid in access to the demonstration site. We are gearing up to get community volunteers involved with the oyster program on a variety of tasks and lessons.