Research and Development
The overall mission of OSH is to be an independent supplier of high-quality shellfish seed serving the entire shellfish aquaculture industry. In support of this mission OSH aims to continue its tradition of innovation as a "tech-forward" hatchery to further “disrupt the norms” of shellfish hatchery operations. R&D at OSH includes internal investigations to improve and innovate commercial production, outside funded projects that push the envelope of technology, and collaborative support to serve as a conduit for research ideas emanating from academic institutions.
Below is a list of current projects.
Good water quality is the sine qua non of hatchery operations. However, water quality varies across site,
season, and, lately, through climate change. Reusing water that has been ‘polished’ to support larval culture is one way of avoiding transient fluctuations in water quality. Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS for short) have been highly successful in fish culture and is the basis of large farms growing Atlantic salmon, tilapia, and other finish species. For shellfish culture, the use of RAS systems potentially offer production stability to larvae culture, the most sensitive stage in the life cycle. RAS for culturing larval shellfish is nascent. OSH is part of a multidisciplinary team to bring this technology to commercial scale.
Stabilizing and Expanding Bivalve Shellfish Seed Supply: the Mobile Oyster Hatchery
Nearly every oyster consumed in the United States began its life in a shellfish hatchery. In the earliest stages of an oyster’s life, it is microscopic and at the mercy of local environmental and water quality conditions that can change quickly, compromising commercial production of seed. Every hatchery is vulnerable and since the location of hatcheries is fixed, they have to ride out unfavorable conditions or quickly adapt. One way to address this vulnerability is to move the hatchery – if only it was portable. OSH has developed a scaled down hatchery that fits into a standard 50-foot tractor trailer. The mobile hatchery concept allows a more agile response to changing site conditions. It can also be a vehicle for testing the adequacy of building a hatchery in a new location.
Economic and environmental feasibility of soft-shell clam aquaculture in Virginia
Starting in the 1980s, shellfish aquaculture in Virginia began to emerge with the hard clam, M. mercenaria. Through the next two decades, the industry grew to be the largest sector on the east coast. Clam culture is restricted to high (>25) salinity sites. Similarly, oyster culture began to take off in the early 2000s and now, Virginia leads the east coast in oyster production. Oyster production is more euryhaline, and occurs throughout the salinity range. Beyone those two species, no other shellfish are cultured. Industry diversification would benefit from finding alternative species to culture. One such candidate is the soft-shell clam, Mya arenaria.