PREP Reports & Publications


The intent of this project was to train private dock owners and marina personnel how to deploy and maintain “spat collectors” under their docks in an effort to capture commercially important shellfish larvae, scallops and oysters in particular, with a minimum amount of effort and cost. The New Hampshire Estuaries Project (NHEP) provided major funding for this phase of the project, with addition funding from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) and the Gulf of Maine Council (GOMC). This year’s effort expands upon the pilot studies that were funded previously by the New Hampshire Coastal Program (NHCP) and the Greater Piscataqua Community Foundation (GPCF). The larvae of most shellfish are free swimming, and can be carried by the tides, currents and wind a great distance. Most of the larvae never survive due to predation and lack of suitable habitat. If it were possible to capture even a small percentage of the larvae within a suitable predator free habitat, the resulting grown out shellfish could be used to enhance the existing beds of wild population shellfish. There are such programs currently being managed, including the Wild Scallop Enhancement Program in Maine and the Oyster Gardening Project on Chesapeake Bay. AERC was able to recruit a number of volunteers, or “Shellfish Stewards”, from the entire seacoast region to join in the project. Although there were challenges, the project was a success. The scallop spat collectors proved to work efficiently with minimal loss over the winter. Lots of shellfish larvae were found growing in the spat bags, with no predators present. Unfortunately, none of the targeted species were found in the bags. The oyster bags did not work as well; only three of the nine bags were covered to date. They may weigh too much, or have fouled too heavily and sank. The bags recovered had lots of shellfish spat growing on them, just no oysters. The next logical step in future efforts with the dockside aquaculture projects would be to consider the options of placing “pre-seeded” collectors onto the sites. AERC attempted to import scallops from the Maine enhancement program last summer as a contingency plan, but the transfer never occurred due to weather and logistical problems encountered at the time. AERC would like to thank our funding agencies for their support and aid in this research. Thanks as well to all of our shellfish stewards who dedicated their dock space, time and effort to help restore an important natural resource. Special thanks to Bill Marshall of the New Castle Conservation Committee, who was instrumental in recruiting our many shellfish stewards in New Castle. Bill also assisted the AERC staff in the deployment phase and was even there to tow us out of the mud during the retrieval operations.


Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership

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New Hampshire Estuaries Project

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