Atlantic and Gulf Shellfish Seed Biosecurity Collaborative
Aquaculture continues to expand rapidly along the East Coast and is beginning to grow along the Gulf Coast with increasing requests for transfers of shellfish that can potentially spread disease harming the industry and natural resources. Regulators must have access to an understanding of disease dynamics and distributions in order to appropriately evaluate risk and gain confidence in justifying transfer decisions one way or the other. Similarly, industry members, including hatcheries, nurseries and farms, must understand the basics of disease risks to protect themselves, neighboring farms, and wild stocks as they seek to source seed for their needs.
Developing this understanding and transferring the knowledge to employ these tools is a primary role of extension and represents an important element of this project. The authors aim to:
- Collaboratively assess the previously piloted shellfish health initiatives (hatchery certification, decision process, and database functionality) to enhance program efficacy and expand extension opportunities to broaden industry participation with new Gulf partners as the authors prepare to expand the initiative into the Gulf.
- Expand the database and hatchery certifications to the Gulf States.
- Establish a surveillance program structure that supports the database with the minimum information necessary and identifies the optimal level of information as a target to maximize its value.
- Develop a management and funding structure to sustain the database and hatchery certification programs, in particular, beyond this or other funding cycles (Sea Grant 2019 National Aquaculture Initiative Funded Projects and Programs).
Dr. Jennifer Beseres Pollack, HRI Chair for Coastal Conservation and Restoration, is serving on the Collaborative’s leadership team as the project lead for Texas. Her role involves:
- Contributing data through local surveillance of shellfish disease, collecting samples, processing samples and identification of local needs,
- Identifying locations and contacts for hatcheries and nurseries being planned in Texas, and
- Making connections with those responsible in Texas for reviewing and approving or denying seed movement into or with Texas.