Rhode Island’s aquaculture industry grew by 7 percent last year despite icy conditions in coastal waters.
Frozen coastal ponds meant individual growers harvested less shellfish than the previous year, according to David Beutel, aquaculture coordinator with the state Coastal Resources Management Council.
“However because in 2015 we had more growers than we had the year before, overall the state's production was up,” said Beutel. “It did balance out for an overall increase.”
The demand for oysters is driving that overall growth, he said.
“The supply of oysters does not begin to meet the demand of oysters,” said Beutel. “So there are lots of opportunities to make money, provide jobs, and definitely to provide seafood for the market.”
Shellfish growers sold more than 8 million oysters to seafood lovers and employed more workers than the previous year. In addition, CRMC permitted six new shellfishing farms in 2015. Beutel said the industry has been steadily growing, a trend seen across the Northeast from Virginia to Maine.
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