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2017 Aquaculture report shows growth, diversification
March 29, 2018, WAKEFIELD – The aquaculture industry in Rhode Island experienced growth in 2017 in production and value, thanks to aquaculturists raising new and diversified crops, according to the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council’s annual status report, “Aquaculture in Rhode Island.”
In 2017, the farm gate value (the value for the product paid to the farmer) of the state’s aquaculture products increased from $5.3 million to more than $5.7 million.
The number of farms increased from 70 to 73, and acres farmed grew by 21.4 acres, a modest 7.8 percent increase, to a total of 295.93 acres farmed. Oysters remain the aquaculture product of choice in the state, with more than 8 million sold for consumption.
Farmers this past year have focused on diversifying their products – they have added sugar kelp (from nine new farms permitted in 2016), soft shell clams, surf clams, and bay scallops to their production. There was also a shellfish harvest closure in February and March 2017 because of Pseudo nitzschia which is not harmful to shellfish but is harmful to people. The closure did not affect the aquaculture crop but did affect the shellfish harvest.
Oyster seed sales from Rhode Island aquaculturists were valued at $260,175, up from last year’s value of $183,000. The number of aquaculture farm workers also grew from 177 to 194, a 9.6 percent increase in the industry’s workforce.