Understanding Barriers to Sustainable Urban Oyster Farming in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Christian Cullinan

This project investigates the spatial barriers to oyster restoration efforts through oyster aquaculture. It aims to address the question on two fronts: sustainable food access and marine ecosystem health. In terms of sustainable food access, it will look at the farm-to table movement in order to understand how the sustainable practices associated with the movement can be applied to aquaculture.

Cullinan OystersSource: npr.org

I believe that attention to local, traceable food sources has been overlooked in the oyster farming community. Therefore, understanding how oyster farms can be better connected to urban areas could improve the economic sustainability of local farms while simultaneously reducing the embodied energy, emissions, and fuel consumption associated with processing and transporting.

I propose to use a qualitative methodology involving a focus group interview method to gather information that answers questions on sustainable practices of aquaculture. oyster farmers, suppliers, and restaurant owners in order to understand the real and perceived barriers to sustainable urban oyster farming. It will also take a case study approach in researching and evaluating existing farm-to-table projects and the efforts of oyster reef restoration projects to better align desired oyster farming practices with the goals of these projects. In the end, I hope to examine oyster restoration efforts through not only an ecological lens, but by also considering of the built environment. The end product will include a capstone project which will evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of locating near urban areas, help towns and cities to incentivize urban aquaculture, and suggest more sustainable practices for the oyster farms to adopt.