Aquaculture Science Hub

Environmental and Ecological Benefits and Impacts of Oyster Aquaculture

Chesapeake Bay, Virginia

A man standing on a dock holds a hose, which is spraying an orange plastic basket full of oysters.
Rappahannock Oyster Co. A worker rinses oysters in Topping, Virginia. © TNC/Hannah Packman

To better quantify the ecological benefits and impacts of oyster aquaculture, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science sampled water quality, sediment quality, benthic macrofaunal communities and oysters at four oyster aquaculture sites located on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, USA.

Differences in water quality, sediment quality, and macrofauna community structure between areas within and outside the farm footprint at each site were rare. Where differences existed, they were of small magnitude and varying direction (i.e. negative versus positive impact).

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