Oyster Aquaculture Demonstration Project

Implementation of the Oyster Aquaculture Demonstration Project (Demonstration) began in the spring of 2013. The plan is to grow 2 batches of 1.25 million juvenile oysters each, for a total of 2.25 million. 1.25 million oysters were purchased and installed in the town upweller on May 28. This batch will be moved to Little Pond in late June. Immediately after that, the second batch will be installed in the upweller moved to Little Pond at the end of July. These will be grown in approximately 2,000 floating bags. The June batch will be transferred to other estuaries in Falmouth for clean-out and further growth at the end of summer. The July batch will be overwintered by submerging it in the pond for further growth in 2014. Oyster growing in 2014 and 2015 will also use the late batches of oysters overwintered from the previous year, supplemented by a single batch of early seed put in the pond at the beginning of the growing season. Thereby, 2 year classes will be culture simultaneously. The floating bags will be of the same type that was used for the oyster survival test in Little and Green Ponds during the summer of 2012.

Water Quality Monitoring

A water quality monitoring program has been established in close coordination with MA DEP, and Falmouth Conservation Commission. MA DEP has indicated that 3 years of water quality data is needed to form the basis of a TMDL-credit for nitrogen removal that is attributable to oyster aquaculture. Appendix 2-9 contains the Scope of Services for this Monitoring Plan. In general, water samples will be taken twice monthly from in June through October. This monitoring protocol includes nutrients as well as other water quality parameters and surveys of benthic organisms. This suite of water quality factors is based on those analyzed as part of the Little Pond Massachusetts Estuaries Project (MEP) Report. In addition, during July and August, data will be collected in 1-hour intervals using 2 continuous monitoring buoys. Sampling parameters include dissolved oxygen, salinity, temperature, pH and turbidity. Discharge from a storm drain near the project site will also be monitored. The purpose of this monitoring plan is to develop an estimate of the amount of nitrogen that can be removed from the water through plankton consumption and incorporation into oyster growth.

The Demonstration plans to have public information sessions from time-to-time to seek input, particularly from residents in the Little Pond area, during the set-up and production stages.