Shellfish Aquaculture

The Marine Advisory Program has been a leader in marine aquaculture initiatives across the Commonwealth. Efforts in past years have focused on the production of soft-shell blue crabs and the culture of marine finfish for food, stock enhancement, and live bait. The current focus of MAP aquaculture is supporting the sustainable growth of molluscan shellfish culture. 

MAP’s shellfish aquaculture extension specialists offer a statewide advisory program that addresses industry questions and concerns. They interact with state and federal agencies, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations, and various other groups within Virginia to find solutions and develop applied research projects that advance the shellfish aquaculture industry.These extension services are provided in partnership with Virginia Sea Grant's Marine Extension Program. For more detailed information about our partners and the services we provide, click here


VIMS and MAP extension specialists are here to respond to industry concerns. MAP extension specialists regularly receive industry calls concerning reports of slow growth, unusually high mortality, weak/poor meat quality, changes in the biofouling community, and/or changes in water quality and clarity, for example. Upon receiving a call, MAP specialists gather information, assemble an appropriate team of researchers, and coordinate sampling at your site. Samples are then returned to VIMS and the appropriate analyses are conducted. VIMS Shellfish Pathology Laboratory will evaluate shellfish samples at no charge from industry in the event that there is a disease or health concern. Results from the analyses are synthesized by the MAP extension specialists and delivered back to industry as a comprehensive report. If you notice something unusual in your hatchery, nursery, or on your farm, please call one of the extension specialists so we can help.

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The MAP shellfish extension specialists are an integral part of the Shellfish Aquaculture Program at VIMS. Under the direction of Dr. Bill Walton, this program is designed to coordinate the aquaculture-related efforts at VIMS. Members of the program meet regularly and maintain an open line of communication through a listserv, which is referred to as the Shellfish Aquaculture Program Exchange (SHAPE), to ensure industry needs are being addressed.

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VIMS established the Shellfish Aquaculture Industry Advisory Committee (SAIAC) in March, 2018 to provide a forum for enhanced communication between VIMS and the Virginia’s shellfish aquaculture industry.  The MAP Shellfish specialist serves as the interface between SAIAC and VIMS, coordinating communications and organizing meetings.  The 10-member committee provides an industry perspective on challenges and solutions related to growing shellfish and advises VIMS on industry needs in the areas of research, education and outreach, and technical services.

  • SAIAC menu (updated February 2023) - includes current/ongoing research projects and an appendix with publications for past projects. 
  • Shellfish Aquaculture Bibliography - a bibliography of published research organized by current hot topics facing the industry.