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National Shellfish Initiative

NOAA established the National Shellfish Initiative in partnership with shellfish farmers and shellfish restoration organizations with the goal to increase populations of bivalve shellfish in our nation’s coastal waters—including oysters, clams, and mussels—through both sustainable commercial production and restoration activities.

Since its inception, NOAA and its partners have made welcome progress on many fronts with the initiative. 

An oyster farmer compares oysters by size to see which ones are ready for harvest.

Benefits of Shellfish

NOAA recognizes the broad suite of economic, social, and environmental benefits provided by shellfish, including:

  • Jobs and business opportunities
  • Meeting the growing demand for seafood
  • Habitat for important commercial, recreational, and endangered and threatened species
  • Species recovery
  • Cleaner water and nutrient removal
  • Shoreline protection

Working with Partners

Efforts are underway with partners in several states to expand opportunities for shellfish farming and restoration. A comprehensive partnership in Washington is promoting new economic opportunities, restoration, improved water quality, and science.

We will work with public and private partners on:

  • Spatial planning and permitting
  • Environmental research
  • Restoration and farming techniques
  • Financing

State Initiatives

Following the launch of the National Shellfish Initiative several states have formed their own partnerships between state and federal government agencies, Tribes, the shellfish aquaculture industry and non-government entities to promote shellfish.

For more background on the National Shellfish Initiative, including contact information by region, check out the National Shellfish Initiative Fact Sheet.


Understanding Shellfish Aquaculture

Shellfish farming and restoration is critical to get more oysters, clams, and mussels in the water for food, jobs, and ecosystem services.


Last updated by Office of Aquaculture on April 18, 2022