The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is now accepting applications for the Off-Bottom Oyster Aquaculture Program‘s 2024–2025 season. This program will teach potential and current commercial oyster farmers the basics of off-bottom oyster aquaculture. The free 20-hour course is intended to provide oyster farmers in Mississippi with a foundation of knowledge to start and/or improve their oyster farming operation.

Topics in the course will include oyster biology, hatchery basics, nursery options, seed handling, farm site selection, overview of off-bottom culture gear, methods to control fouling, splitting and grading, business planning, risk management, permitting, public health considerations and marketing. The course will be held at the Bolton Building (and other sites) at 1141 Bayview Ave., Biloxi, MS 39530 on Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to approximately noon, beginning June 8 and ending tentatively on August 24th. Classes are currently scheduled for June 8, July 13, August 3 and August 24 (attendance is mandatory at all classes). The program will give priority in selection to participants in the Mississippi commercial seafood industry, particularly those holding commercial seafood licenses (harvester, processor, etc.) for at least three of the last five years.

Participants will have the option of receiving approximately 10,000 oyster seeds to gain hands-on experience with oyster culture and the opportunity to use one “run” of oyster farming gear within the Deer Island Oyster Park through May 31, 2025. All participants will be required to develop a basic business plan, provide a formal evaluation of the program, document any oyster production in the training program, follow best management practices at the training site and return any loaned gear in clean, working order to MDMR.

Interested participants must meet and/or complete the following items to enroll:

  • Applications will be available from March 1 – March 15, 2024
  • Complete and submit the application by 11:59 p.m. March 15, 2024
  • Be a full-time Mississippi resident living in Hancock, Harrison or Jackson counties with the ability to attend training.
  • Be at least 18 years old as of June 1, 2024
  • Have a valid boat registration in the applicant’s name.
  • Possess a valid Mississippi driver’s license.
  • Must be present at the “Required Informational Session” on Tuesday May 14, 2024 at 6 p.m.

The Off-Bottom Oyster Aquaculture Program has 12 openings. If interest exceeds capacity, participants may be asked to partner with other participants.

For more information about enrolling and eligibility requirements, please contact a MDMR Shellfish staff member at or 228-374-5000