Supporting sustainable fishing and aquaculture economies and promoting safe seafood consumption
Delaware has long been a leader in the fishing industry by developing progressive catch management policies and advanced seafood processing technologies. Delaware Sea Grant is working with fishermen, state regulators, and citizens to keep that momentum going and explore promising new economic drivers like aquaculture.
Extension & Outreach
Delaware Sea Grant intern Lane Johnston worked with Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control during their annual Atlantic Menhaden surveys and kept a blog about her experience and the world of Menhaden management.
Research & Development
Developing More Sustainable Bait to Save Horseshoe Crabs
Although iconic to the region and hundreds of millions of years old, the horseshoe crab population in the Delaware Bay declined considerably by the early 1990s. Use of the animals for bait for the eel and conch fisheries removed millions from coastal waters. University of Delaware researchers with Delaware Sea Grant support studied why the horseshoe crabs made such good bait and developed an alternative that has a fraction of the impact on the population. The bait recipe was later published and developed commercially.
Inland Bays Shellfish Aquaculture
Delaware Sea Grant has been working with state managers and oyster growers to launch an oyster aquaculture industry based in the Inland Bays. These partnerships resulted in the first planting of oysters in Rehoboth Bay in 2018, with numerous leases ready for additional oyster spat.
Shellfish Aquaculture Partners
Delaware Sea Grant’s role is to provide information and support to the nascent industry, but the creation and growth of this new endeavor is dependent on the private-sector participants, from new oyster farmers to supply chain companies, distributors and restaurateurs that make growing and selling their product possible. You can learn about the companies that have taken the first leap of faith into the market on our partners page.
To enhance shellfish aquaculture in the Inland Bays, Delaware Sea Grant collaborated with researchers and oyster farmers to come up with effective marketing for local shellfish and aquaculture. A flourishing shellfish aquaculture market is expected to not only improve profitability for seafood markets and restaurants, but also improve water quality in the Inland Bays due to oysters' natural abilities to filter pollutants from the water.
Funded by Delaware Sea Grant, University of Delaware Professor Kent Messer led a group of researchers in a study to explore what consumers look for when purchasing oysters, as well as their reactions toward a new brand highlighting local oysters, using experimental economics. Find out more about the research.
Research & Development
Delaware Sea Grant has partnered with Delaware State University's Aquaculture Research and Demonstration Facility to conduct more R&D on oysters and other aquaculture fisheries. Research conducted in this facility include identifying fitting aquaculture species in the mid-Atlantic region and discovering appropriate techniques for management. It is currently the only one of its kind in the state of Delaware, and aims to contribute to the economic and environmental growth of local aquaculture production.
Delaware Sea Grant hosts workshops to teach farmers in the oyster industry the best practices for production and invite them to share their knowledge. Interested in participating in a workshop? Browse through our News & Events page for upcoming classes!
Aquaculture Industry Resources
Interested in quick links to aquaculture references and reports? Check out our online aquaculture resource center.
Citizen Water Quality Monitoring Program
Citizen scientists have been measuring Delaware's Inland Bays and tidal rivers for nutrients and harmful algae since 1991. This extensive record has enabled impactful research on algal blooms across Delaware's watersheds and played a key role in the safe implementation of oyster aquaculture in the Inland Bays.
Seafood Health & Technology
Seafood Health Facts Resource
Delaware Sea Grant is a founding partner of the Seafood Health Facts website, an online resource that helps consumers make smart choices about the seafood they eat. More than half a million people use the site each year.
Education and Training
Delaware Sea Grant organizes educational classes and training programs on a variety of seafood-related topics including, but not limited to, food safety, seafood safety issues, and sanitary science. Programs are designed for both consumers interested in learning more about seafood consumption and professionals involved in the seafood production industry. Interested in taking a class and/or training program? Check out our News & Events page for an up-to-date schedule!