The Off-Bottom Oyster Aquaculture Training Program educates prospective and existing commercial oyster farmers on all facets of off-bottom oyster farming tailored the Mississippi Sound. It equips participants to run economically and environmentally sustainable off-bottom oyster farms in Mississippi, boosting the state’s annual oyster yield in both quantity and value. Held on Saturday mornings during the summer, the program features classroom and field sessions at the Bolton Building in Biloxi, Miss., and the Deer Island Aquaculture Park.

Topics in the course will include:

  • Oyster biology
  • Hatchery basics
  • Nursery options
  • Seed handling
  • Farm site selection
  • An overview of off-bottom culture gear
  • Methods to control fouling
  • Splitting and grading
  • Business planning
  • Risk management
  • Public health considerations
  • Marketing

With the high volume of information given during each class, attendance is mandatory for the entire course. 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. 


Includes classroom and field education on aquaculture, business operations and demonstrations of off-bottom aquaculture techniques. During the first phase, participants attend training meetings, workshops, receive assistance with development of a business plan, deploy grow-out systems at training site(s) and stock those systems with seed.


Incorporate hands-on training by allowing participants to select an oyster-growing technique from the range of permitted methods using information gained from phase one. Participants will maintain their assigned gear and oyster seed, including all aspects of fouling control, grading, splitting and site maintenance following best management practices. Instructors and participants will periodically evaluate oyster survival, growth and quality, as well as comparing individual success among program participants to facilitate collaborative learning.

If all requirements are completed the participants will be eligible to sublease two acres from the MDMR to begin their own off-bottom oyster aquaculture business.

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

  • Complete and submit the application
  • 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
  • Possess a functional vessel with a valid boat registration in the applicant’s name
  • Have a valid Mississippi driver’s license

If you are interested in this class, applicants MUST attend the “Required Informational Session”. During this session, we will review all expectations and requirements of the class. For more information about enrolling and eligibility requirements, please email