I’m excited to follow in the footsteps of Prof. Kenneth K. Chew, now retired from the School of Aquatic and Fishery Science at the University of Washington, who served as a shellfish aquaculture columnist for this publication for many years. I am grateful to Ken for his advice and many decades of contributions to shellfish aquaculture.
By way of introduction, I have been Professor of Fisheries and Aquaculture at the University of Rhode Island for the last 26 years, and during that time I have been engaged with students, conducting shellfish biology and aquaculture-related research, and working with the shellfisheries industry locally in Rhode Island, around the country, and overseas in Asia and Africa.
Over the years, I’ve also worked with decision makers locally and abroad in developing, implementing, and maintaining best science-based public policies as they relate to the shellfish aquaculture industry. Since most shellfish growing is conducted in common-property (often called public trust) waterways, some sort of governmental permitting and oversight is required, frequently with public involvement. And since most molluscan shellfish are filter feeders that are most delicious when consumed raw, official oversight is also required to maintain public health and assure the public confidence and enthusiasm for eating shellfish. For these reasons, continued expansion and profitability of the shellfish aquaculture industry depends upon cooperative relations with an informed and engaged regulatory community.
Every four months or so in this column I’ll be sharing my observations of the state of the shellfish aquaculture industry, provide some analysis of some of the issues of the day and provide an overview of current research into those issues. I’ll be examining some of the best practices of the industry, and providing some historical and economic context. The threats to the profitability of shellfish aquaculture such as shellfish disease, predators, pests, environmental change, and public health concerns will be some of my topics as well. Recent research into factors influencing shellfish growth, productivity and profitability will be discussed on occasion, including breakthroughs in genetics and biotechnology that may be applied by the industry. Shellfish aquaculture can contribute to the overall sustainability and positive public image of the aquaculture industry in general, and provide an environmentally friendly means for building and maintaining working waterfronts. I look forward to your readership and suggestions.