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Shellfish Cultivation Effects on Habitat
Research conducted at NOAA Fisheries
Milford Laboratory, Milford, CT
This project investigates the ecological interactions between shellfish cultivation on leased grounds and the ecosystem, with particular emphasis on the impacts of mechanical harvest methods. A review of relevant literature, including over 300 papers and a synthesis document form the foundation for this work.
A field experiment is in progress to compare benthic biodiversity, abundance of macrofauna, and sediment biogeochemistry in areas where oysters or clams have been harvested, as well as in unharvested control areas. The study is focused on measuring ecological recovery over the course of cultivation cycles.
Farming shellfish often involves significant seabed disturbance on a leased bed during harvest; however, habitat is replaced when shell and seed are replanted and allowed to grow for several years. It is important to distinguish this activity from other types of wild shellfish harvesting where common areas are continually subject to fishing pressure.