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Oyster farming classes to be offered by DMR

Mississippi residents interested in learning about oyster farming, or oyster aquaculture, can now sign up for a class scheduled for this summer in Dauphin Island, Ala., that is co-sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.

“Oyster Farming Fundamentals” is a 15-hour, non-credit course that teaches current and potential oyster farmers the basics of off-bottom oyster aquaculture. The class will be taught by Bill Walton, extension specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, and Jason Rider, oyster extension agent for MDMR.

The purpose of the course is to give oyster farmers in Mississippi and Alabama a foundation of knowledge to start and/or improve their oyster farming operation.

Topics covered include oyster biology, hatchery basics, nursery options, seed handling, farm-site selection, overview of off-bottom culture gear, business planning, risk management, permitting, public health considerations and marketing.

The course will be taught at Auburn University’s Shellfish Laboratory on Dauphin Island from 9 a.m. to noon. Classes begin June 3 and will be held about every two weeks and are scheduled to end Aug. 12.

Participants will have the option to receive at least 10,000 oyster seeds to gain hands-on experience with oyster culture and will be able to use one 100-yard run of oyster farming gear within the Grand Bay Oyster Park through the end of March 2018.

Participants also 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 to AUSL in clean, working order.

The cost of the course is $250, which must be paid by Monday, May 15. Applicants must be a resident of one of the three coastal counties in Mississippi; be at least 19 years old as of June 1, 2017 and sign a statement acknowledging that the cost of starting a commercial oyster farm could exceed $25,000.

Class size is limited, and priority will be given to participants in the commercial seafood industry who have held a commercial seafood license for at least three of the last five years.

Applicants must submit copies of their driver’s license and any commercial seafood permits to Jason Rider, 1141 Bayview Ave., Biloxi, MS 39530. The deadline is Friday, April 28.

For more information and to get an application form, contact Rider at 228-697-2535 or Jason.rider@dmr.ms.gov.

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