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Shellfish Aquaculture

For shellfish harvesters and dealers


What is Aquaculture?

Aquaculture is the cultivation of shellfish in controlled conditions for human consumption. Cultivation includes the propagation and growing of shellfish in natural or man-made bodies of water.

Aquaculture activities include seed collection, production, and cultivation in natural bodies of water when shellfish are held off the bottom using racks, bags, cages, or other gear. Holding shellfish in man-made water bodies such as tanks, ponds, or raceways are also considered aquaculture activities. Wet storage and depuration are not included as aquaculture activities.

Aquaculture Operational Plan

Tray Culture

Shellfish harvesters and dealers that practice aquaculture activities are required to complete the Aquaculture Operational Plan.


All aquaculture operations must keep the following records on file for a minimum of two (2) years:

  • Current Aquaculture Operational Plan
  • Source of shellfish seed

Land-based aquaculture operations must also keep the following records for a minimum of two (2) years, as applicable to the facility:

  • Source of water
  • Water treatment methods
  • Water quality data of land-based systems

Seed Size

The maximum seed size for aquacultured shellfish allowed to be grown in "Prohibited" or "Unclassified" growing areas is as follows:

  • Pacific oysters – 50 millimeters (mm)
  • Kumamoto oysters – 45 millimeters (mm)

There is no limit on seed size for shellfish grown in "Approved" growing areas.

Seed moved from "Prohibited" or "Unclassified" growing areas must be in an "Approved" growing area for a minimum of 120 days before shellfish can be harvested.


Hatcheries and nurseries rearing larvae and/or seed are not required to complete the Aquaculture Operational Plan and are exempt from the NSSP Chapter VI requirements if they are located in "Approved" or "Conditionally Approved" growing areas.

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