Mobile Hatchery in a Box, NOAA

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Project is pending approval of proposal to NOAA Sea Grant Aquaculture Program.

Project overview:

Successful shellfish aquaculture relies crucially on sufficient amounts of high quality seed. When enough hatcheries produce rigorous seed stock, this creates the basis for successful production by shellfish farmers and wild stock enhancement by coastal communities. Seed can be a limiting factor because of increased demand, environmental changes affecting hatchery production, or storm induced hatchery losses. We propose to design, build, test, and refine a mobile shipping container-based shellfish hatchery system to address the shortage of shellfish hatchery capacity in the northeastern United States and other regions.

Our mobile Hatchery in a Box (HBox) is based on a 20’ shipping container that can be moved to where it is needed. Its standard design and open source operating protocol will make it easier to train hatchery technicians and support consistent seed production. HBox mobility will allow valuable coastal waterfront space, such as boat ramps, docks, and parking lots to be shared: the HBox can operate on site in late winter when these spaces are little used, and then relocated for the summer months. HBox technology will enable shellfish seed production in high value coastal locations for both commercial and stock enhancement purposes without the need for dedicated land and facilities.

We propose to build two prototype HBox systems and test them over three growing seasons in collaboration with Island Creek Oysters of Duxbury, Massachusetts, and the Town of Nantucket, Massachusetts. The experience gained from operating the HBox systems will be used to refine the design and operating protocols. Industry representatives will be invited to visit the HBox during the third season of operations. We will make the design and operating information publicly available at the conclusion of the project to maximize its effectiveness in promoting healthy and sustainable growth of the US shellfish aquaculture industry.

Collaborators: Michael Tlusty (University of Massachusetts Boston), Town of Nantucket, Island Creek Oysters (Duxbury, Mass.).