|WIKFORS, GARY - National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)|
|RHEAULT, ROBERT - University Of Rhode Island|
Submitted to: Aquaculture Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/22/2022
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: N/A
Technical Abstract: The rapid expansion of eastern oyster aquaculture has led to increased demand for hatchery-produced seed all along the East Coast of the USA. Growing environments across geographic regions (from Maine to Florida) are heterogenous, and recent field trials demonstrate that well-adapted oyster populations perform better at native sites than transplants. Oyster lines selected for specific traits (e.g., growth, survival, disease resistance) also perform better than unselected oysters. Currently, several commercial hatcheries supply seed to the Northeast industry sector, many of which use wild, unselected broodstock or broodstock selected in the Mid-Atlantic. Sustained and increased federal research dollars to USDA ARS and NOAA NEFSC for shellfish aquaculture have prompted an interagency agreement to establish the Northeast Oyster Breeding Center (NOBC). The mission of the NOBC is to leverage complementary agency resources to develop and propagate region-specific, high-performance eastern oyster broodstock in response to New England stakeholder needs. USDA ARS will design and implement a family-based breeding program that incorporates genomic information for precise trait selection. NOAA NEFSC will adapt culture technologies and oversee hatchery operations at their facility. The NOBC will work with partner growers to evaluate the performance of selected seed at multiple farms. Performance (phenotype) and genotype data will inform iterative breeding cycles to produce genetically improved broodstock. Ultimately, broodstock will be released to commercial hatcheries for large-scale seed production that can meet grower demand. Here we lay out our vision for the NOBC and discuss the expected positive influence it will have on the eastern oyster aquaculture industry in the Northeast region.