UF/IFAS awarded $100K grant to boost shellfish aquaculture industry
The project will include water quality sampling at four shellfish aquaculture farms — two oyster and two clam — along the Gulf Coast
HOMESTEAD — Shellfish like clams and oysters can help restore ocean health and support economic development and food production in coastal communities worldwide.
A scientist at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) has partnered with Florida Sea Grant researchers on a $100,000 grant awarded by The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Through the grant, scientists plan to quantify the ecosystem benefits of bivalve aquaculture, specifically assessing the use of oysters and clams. Researchers also will explore how to integrate shellfish into water quality policies in the state.
The Conservancy announced the grant recipients this month as part of the new Supporting Oyster Aquaculture and Restoration (SOAR) Shellfish Growers Resiliency Fund.
“The grant will help pave the way for shellfish aquaculture in Florida,” said Ashley Smyth, an assistant professor of biogeochemistry and soil and water sciences at UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida. “The amount of nitrogen removed by oyster and clam aquaculture in Florida is unknown. Until those data exist, it is difficult to have a direct path for shellfish growers to contribute to water quality restoration and mitigation policies, or to be compensated for the ecosystem services that their products provide.”