Dorchester Leads State in Oyster Farming

Growing Aquaculture Industry Set to Shatter Records by 2014 Ask the nation’s seafood lovers about where the best tasting oysters are found, and choices from Long Island, New England, Prince Edward Island, and the Pacific Northwest frequently come to mind. If Dorchester County’s local oyster farmers have their way, bivalves from the waters of the Choptank and Hooper’s Island will soon join that list. Dorchester County is the hub of Maryland oyster farming. The county outpaces all others with a total of 64 shellfish aquaculture leases out of 322 statewide, according to Karl Roscher, Aquaculture Division Director for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Included are 22 leases issued since 2010 for farms coming into production. They represent a quarter of new leases in Maryland. An additional 12 Dorchester County leases are under review. Dorchester oyster farmers produced approximately 1.025 million oysters in 2012, according to reports maintained by DNR. Roscher expects that number to at least double in 2013 with significant increases to follow as new operations come online. The leases vary from larger commercial operations looking to sell premium oysters found on the tables of top restaurants to farmers who sell by the bushel and those raising …

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