OFF-BOTTOM OYSTER AQUACULTURE TRAINING PROGRAM

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is now accepting applications for the Oyster Farming Fundamentals course being offered during the 2020–2021 season. This RESTORE-Act Project will teach potential and current commercial oyster farmers the basics of off-bottom oyster aquaculture. The free 15-hour course is intended to provide oyster farmers in Mississippi 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 April 4 and ending tentatively on May 30th. Classes are currently scheduled for April 4, April 18, May 2, May 16 and May 30(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 30, 2021. 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:

  • Complete and submit the application by 5 p.m. March 18, 2020
  • 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 March 19, 2020
  • Have a valid Mississippi boat registration in applicant’s name
  • Possess a valid Mississippi driver’s license
  • Must be present at the “Required Information Session” on March 19, 2020

If you are interested in this class, applicants MUST attend the “Required Informational Session” on March 19, 2020. The meeting will be held at: The Bolton Building 1141 Bayview Ave. Biloxi, MS 39530 at 6 p.m. in the first-floor auditorium. During this session we will review all expectations and requirements of the class. The Oyster Farming Fundamentals class has 25 openings. If interest exceeds capacity, a lottery drawing will determine class entry. For more information about enrolling and eligibility requirements, please contact: Jason Rider, jason.rider@dmr.ms.gov, 228-523-4037.

This project was paid for [in part] with federal funding from the Department of the Treasury under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act). The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Treasury”