BlueTrace Blog

2 min read

BlueTrace: Continue Growth and Product Expansion

By Chip Terry on Mar 13, 2024 4:50:06 PM

BlueTrace Grows to 430 clients, prints over 5 million tags, and expands product.

Castine, ME - BlueTrace, the software platform designed for the seafood industry, today has 430 clients across North America. As of last week, their clients had printed 5,007,844 tags and labels. Every tag includes a QR code connecting the regulatory and operational data needed to simplify seafood operations and compliance.

BlueTrace is rapidly expanding beyond shellfish and tagging. Today many BlueTrace customers use the software to track their inventory of tuna, swordfish, scallops, lobster, seaweed, and other species. Over 60 clients use their distributor solution to get advanced shipping notices and create digital receiving and shipping logs. With clients in almost every coastal state in the US, every coastal province in Canada, and in Mexico and Australia, BlueTrace works with a wide range of clients.

Several customers are piloting their latest version of the platform which includes item catalog management, real-time inventory, and pricing management. Now folks in the office can see what is happening on the floor in real time. Sales and operations know how many oysters, how many pounds of tuna or crates of lobsters they have at any given moment.  Improving operations, reducing waste and giving them control over their business.  

“Our mission is to simplify the seafood industry. The seafood industry has been around forever, and it does a lot of things well, but they are drowning in redundant paperwork. The lack of visibility into their operations makes it hard for them to scale.  90% of the seafood industry is small to midsize businesses that simply lack reasonably priced tools to do their jobs effectively.” says Chip Terry, CEO.  

“We love the way the BlueTrace team always listens and comes up with simple solutions that help companies like us grow.” says Trey McMillan of LowCountry Oysters in South Carolina.

“BlueTrace is just what we need to simplify our complex paperwork and reduce errors. Our regulator is super happy and we feel more in control,” says Paul Hagan of Denarius Trading in Boston.  

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requires companies to have detailed records of their food safety practices, including information about incoming shipments, according to Joe Lasprogata Vice President at Samuel and Son Seafood. 

For a company like Samuels with multiple locations and high volumes of seafood, this can be a cumbersome and time-consuming task. By utilizing technology that provides visibility into incoming shipments and helps to seamlessly collect the necessary information for FSMA compliance, companies can streamline their processes and ensure they are meeting all regulatory requirements. This not only helps to protect the safety of their products and customers but also saves time and resources for the company.

The next version of BlueTrace, which will be rolling out this Spring, includes a cloud-based system for managing sales and purchasing–while creating the invoices and purchase orders needed in their existing accounting systems.  

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2 min read

US Aquaculture: Opportunity Abounds

By Chip Terry on Feb 28, 2024 8:39:32 PM

This is the first of three related articles exploring the issue of aquaculture in the US.  This series was sparked by NOAA seeking comments on the US National Aquaculture Development Plan. The goal of the plan is to: strengthening U.S. commitment to food security, climate resilience, and the protection of threatened and endangered species.

The last plan was done 40 years ago!

US Aquaculture Could Feed the World

The National Aquaculture Development Plan draft recognizes that, aquaculture done right is good for our health, our environment and our communities.  But we are lagging: 

  • Not Enough Domestic Production: The US imports 65% - 70% of of seafood consumed domestically.  A $17 Billion annual deficit.  Despite having a huge coastline and prolific fisheries.

  • Lagging Seafood Consumption: The U.S. federal dietary guidelines recommend an increase in annual seafood consumption from 19.2 pounds per capita to 26 pounds per capita.

  • US Aquaculture Lags Wild Fisheries: U.S. aquaculture produces $1.5 billion in annual farm gate sales, or 20 percent of U.S. seafood production by value. In the rest of the world, aquaculture produces ~50% of the seafood--and is the fastest growing protein source in the world.  

The USDA and NOAA are investing to expand US aquaculture.  The range of investment in science, technology, and workforce development are compelling.  

A challenge that really caught our attention is the recognition that the vast majority of seafood companies lack tools to compete globally. In part this is because ~90% of seafood companies (both wild-caught and aquaculture) are small or medium companies who can't afford to invest in current systems.    

 We see this every day.  

  • Small oyster farms that grow a great product but struggle to get it to market–while complying with all the regulatory paperwork and marketing their product.  Leading to burnout of owners. 

  • Clam buyers who are the mercy of distant markets setting the price.

  • Fisherman who never know if the product they are harvesting will sell for enough to cover the costs.

  • Small wholesalers hustling every day to deliver fish to the retailers and restaurants in their community.

  • The mismatch in supply and demand that leaves fish rotting while consumers can’t get what they want. The USDA estimates 39% of seafood is lost in the supply chain.

Meanwhile consumers cite three key reasons that they do not consume more seafood.

  1. Expense: seafood is an expensive product
  2. Quality: Freshness is a key
  3. Concerns over food safety

All of these issues relate directly to the lack of tools in the seafood industry. Small firms reinventing the wheel and doing things manually increases expenses.  A cumbersome system slows the movement of product while decreasing quality and raising food safety concerns. 

The focus by USDA and NOAA on these important challenges is heartening.  Our food security and the health of our rural waterfront communities relies on getting this right.

In our next series, we'll look at options for the industry and government to help. 

Just an fyi: while some consolidation is likely we believe that there is a place for well-run small and mid-size businesses to thrive in this world.  It is the mission of BlueTrace to make that a reality.  


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3 min read

The Crimes Behind the Seafood You Eat

By Chip Terry on Oct 19, 2023 1:04:44 PM

The article from the New Yorker is devastating:  A huge Chinese fleet, manned with at least some slave labor destroying the global squid fisheries to put calamari on the plate of US consumers.  

In a deeply researched article, the authors follow calamari harvested illegally off the the coast of the Galapagos, where at least one crewman died, back to China and then on to "at least 62 American Importers" who sold on to Costco, Kroger, Safeway and others.  

Obviously every industry has bad actors and not every bad act can be stopped.  But the industry needs to move to a new system that prioritizes understanding the chain of custody from boat to plate.  There are a lot of government, NGO and commercial efforts to address this challenge.  But fundamentally, the handwritten paperwork driven by well intentioned regulations is letting bad things happen--while killing productivity.  

A digital first system could help expose challenges a lot earlier and make this type of fraud much harder.  To use a couple of example:

1) The Seafood Import Monitoring Program is a really well intentioned program, but the reality of just uploading documents to a government database is not helping weed out IUUs.  And as of this date, squid is not covered by the program.

2) The MSC/BAP/ASC certification programs all rely on in-person monitors who show up once or twice a year.  And even if we think those are effective, certification programs cover less than 40% of the worlds fisheries.

3) The complexity is huge: 80%+ of US seafood is imported.  Seafood is the most traded protein in the world (3x beef).  The number of products is massive (we often see 1,500+ SKUs at a mid-sized distributor).  

So what are the solutions? Having worked with 100s of seafood operations, I would propose a few things. 

1) Mandate digital data in near real time:  Structured data like (time/location of harvest, fishing vessel, size of catch, species caught) that is then passed through the supply chain lets us find bad actors more easily.  For instance, if a ship reports landing 10,000lbs, but buyers report buying 100,000lbs that should  trigger a follow up.

2) Align FDA's Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) so they capture the same data in the same format. Making it easier on all the participants. This includes applying a Traceability Lot Code from the beginning of the chain--even on imported products. 

3) Mandate Labels with Key Information: IMG_6799The labeling of seafood with crayons on wet wax boxes makes it way too easy for bad actors.  Some variation of shellfish tags would be a good start.

IMG_3587 2

4) Lean into DNA/RNA testing: Modern tests can tell the location of a catch--if there is a good underlying database to match to. Sample testing key lots to see if the DNA matched the digital record would be highly effective in rooting out bad actors.

5) Keep it Simple and Inexpensive: Make it easy for folks to comply.  IMG_6802This should not be a mandate that costs the entire chain.  Paired with a simple system, should be a reduction of other regulatory paperwork that maybe isn't as important. 

Government, NGOs and the industry all have roles to play, but we should agree that we want to cover 100% of seafood with an easy to use system that gets everyone on the same page.  Stories like that above hurt the entire industry--even though the vast majority is doing the right thing. 


Topics: #FSMA
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2 min read

BlueTrace's Durable, Mobile Tagging Solution

By Cat Ganim on Sep 19, 2023 8:57:47 AM

Our primary goal at BlueTrace is to streamline operations for our customers and save them valuable time. A significant aspect of achieving this goal is minimizing the time required to create tags and attach them to shellfish containers.

The journey of finding a reliable and durable paper product for our mobile printers has been an ongoing endeavor. However, the main challenge we encountered was the lengthy process of sourcing the perfect paper stock, obtaining samples, and conducting thorough testing.

But here's the exciting part: After collaborating with three vendors and meticulously testing five different paper stocks and perforation patterns, we have finally discovered a thicker paper stock that surpasses expectations in terms of durability and ruggedness for shellfish tags and labels. Now, let me delve into the process we underwent and the ultimate decisions we made...

What we were looking for:

  1. Given the fast-paced nature of our customers' operations, it is essential to source a paper stock that can withstand the rapid and sometimes messy tearing at the perforation.
  2. Our paper needs to endure the significant strain exerted by metal clips or zip ties inserted into the hole punches.
  3. We require paper that offers both vertical and horizontal tear resistance, striking a delicate balance between thickness and strength, without compromising the number of tags on each roll.

What we decided on:

  1. We selected a game-changing paper stock for our customers: a robust, 6mil paper stock that is way harder to tear.
  2. This stock can have custom branding applied to the back. To ensure the ink doesn't smudge, a lamination is required.
  3. Although fewer tags fit on each roll due to the thicker stock, we will continue to provide 1500 tags per case.

What paper that failed our testing looks like:

Check out one of the 4mil paper stocks that DID NOT pass my rigorous tests for speedy tearing. Notice that on a few sheets, the rip was not clean.


Winner, winner chicken dinner!

Here is how the new 6mil paper stock fared when pressure tested in my "printer lab" (a fancy word for my basement). Good news: IT PASSED!


We'll be rolling out this durable paper stock to customers in Oct 2023. 

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2 min read

Greenwashing and Shellfish Tags

By Chip Terry on Sep 11, 2023 2:07:00 PM

We have seen a few tag materials that claim to be compostable and recyclable.  If true, this would be a boon to the seafood industry and we would be first in line to embrace it. But the reality is the commercial applications don’t live up to the hype.IMG_9934

Here are the labels that one European company claims is Biodegradable, Compostable and Recyclable.  In a technical sense they are right, but the details really matter.IMG_9933

Recyclable with a code “7” is essentially non-recyclable in most communities.  Here are two descriptions from the web: 

Any type of plastic that doesn’t fit into one of the first six categories falls under this heading. Products stamped with a 7 are often made out of multiple plastic types or out of other types of plastic that can’t easily be recycled. (

Number 7 plastics often fall under the miscellaneous category, where anything goes. For years, plastics with resin code 7 weren’t recyclable. This is one of the reasons it isn’t recycled much. Today, the recyclers that recycle number 7 plastics use modern, high rate composting which is costly to run. (

What about the "OK to Compost" label? The OK to compost label is a well respected European standard. According to their website: 

Products that are solely OK compost INDUSTRIAL-certified are those that compost only in industrial composting facilities (at temperatures between 55 to 60°C) [131°F to 140°F], so products that are solely OK compost INDUSTRIAL-certified should not go into the garden compost. (

Bottom Line: If you live in a community with a really sophisticated recycling program or have an industrial scale composting system this material is good for the environment.  If you don’t (and most of us don’t) it is just pure greenwashing.  Might as well save your money.  

For more information on the broader challenge of plastic recycling, this Frontline Documentary is a good starting point.  This is a hard problem and I wish we had a better solution--but making consumers feel good by misleading them is not helpful to anyone.  

The bigger problem for the industry as a whole is the packaging (boxes, bags, styrofoam containers) that are necessary for safe and efficient food handling, but are seldom recycled. 

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1 min read

Recalls don't have to be scary

By Chip Terry on Sep 5, 2023 12:02:29 PM

Recalls happen--fortunately not very frequently--but they are a fact of life in any food industry. Most recalls are precautionary.  In other words, there are nodist-recall-smconfirmed illnesses.  

So far this year we have seen recalls in ME, MA, RI, CT, NY, VA, Canada, and elsewhere.  

If handled properly, your company should have limited/no liability and it should not impact your operations.  

When a recall happens, you should get that product out of the system as quickly as possible.  This is why companies are supposed to have a written recall plan.  And why inspections often include a mock recall.  

Knowing how much time this takes and how important it is, BlueTrace built a recall feature that automates much of the recall. 

The recall feature is included in all our products as part of the base package. Handling recalls properly is important for the health of the entire industry and we want to make sure everyone can do it properly. 

The process is simple:

1) Identify the lots that are being recalled (in the log).

2) Push the Recall button (note only the owner/manager has access to this).

3) Fill out the form and push enter

Two things will happen:

1) If there is an email in the system for the client, we will send them a notice

2) We will change the landing page under the QR code so anyone scanning the QR code with their phone will see that there is a recall for this lot.

You should still reach out personally to any of your impacted client and you should still keep track of what product has been returned and/or destroyed.

We hope it is a feature you never have to use.  

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1 min read

Virginia Oyster Recall

By Chip Terry on Aug 11, 2023 12:23:15 PM

Below are the details of a recall published on August 11, 2023--for oyster harvested in June 2023!!  I sure hope these are not still in circulation.  We checked with our clients and they are all clear. Hopefully no one got sick, but it clearly cost the folks involved a ton of time and hurt their reputation.   

The regulators are doing their job and making sure we all stay safe--and our industry stays healthy.  Let's all help make their jobs easy.  

Bottom line: Pay attention to those rain closures. 

The Virginia Department of Health, Division of Shellfish Safety and Waterborne Hazards is reporting 10,000 oysters were harvested on June 28, 2023, from lease # 20655 in Pungoteague Creek when a rainfall closure was in effect, and therefore, the product which was harvested is deemed unfit for human consumption. The original harvest date is 6/28/2023 and was wet stored until 7/3/2023 and/or 7/5/2023, when the shellstock oysters were shipped and entered into
interstate commerce. Records obtained indicate that the affected product was sent to Texas and Washington DC on 7/3/2023 and to Massachusetts on 7/5/2023. It is not yet known where the product was subsequently shipped and no illnesses have been reported involving this lease and harvest date.

A recall is being conducted. As more information becomes available, updates will be provided.
Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference
4801 Hermitage Road, Suite 102
Richmond, VA 23227
Phone: 804-330-6380

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3 min read

Seed Funding Announcement

By Alessandra Bosco on Feb 16, 2023 9:00:00 AM


Alessandra Bosco
(202) 821-7245

BlueTrace raises $4 million to modernize the seafood industry

New funding will enable the industry pioneer to modernize seafood operations from tideline to table.

Castine, ME, February 16, 2023 - BlueTrace, the easiest and most powerful traceability solution for seafood harvesters, growers, distributors, processors, and dealers, today announced $3.2 million in Seed funding, bringing the company’s fundraising total to $4.1 million. The round was led by York IE, Maine Venture Fund, and CEI Ventures, with participation from various angel investors, including SeaAhead

“Sustainable seafood is great for our communities, our planet, and our health,” said Chip Terry, CEO. “Our mission is to keep the seafood supply chain safe, efficient, and compliant by digitizing key transactions to make seamless traceability possible. We have a long list of desired features from our clients — this new funding will help us deliver them.”

Joe Raczka, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at York IE, has joined BlueTrace’s board of directors. Raczka will collaborate with existing board members Abigail Carroll, an oyster farmer turned investor and podcaster, and Dave Ford, a tech entrepreneur and angel investor.

“BlueTrace is bringing a unique digital solution to a traditionally non-digital, tech-laggard industry,” Raczka said. “Chip and the rest of the talented team have proven their product market fit and will continue improving the seafood landscape.”

After identifying a need to manage and track harvests in the shellfish market more effectively, Terry and his partners founded BlueTrace, formerly known as Oyster Tracker, in 2018. After initial traction with shellfish harvesters and distributors, BlueTrace has begun expanding its digital platform to support the broader seafood landscape. 

Seafood organizations of any size can use BlueTrace’s cloud-based solutions from their smartphones to create logs (harvest, HACCP, receiving, shipping, cooling, etc.) and tag their products. The system empowers frontline employees to easily track and trace shipments. A regulatory rules engine increases compliance while reducing redundant paperwork.  

In November, the FDA announced the final food traceability rules for the Food Safety Modernization Act, which will begin to take effect in 2023. BlueTrace already enables seafood businesses to comply with these increasingly stringent requirements.

“BlueTrace is a game-changer that’s meeting the unique needs of the seafood industry,” said Joe Lasprogata, Vice President, New Product Development at Samuels Seafood. “Our company moves millions of pounds of seafood each year, which obviously means a lot of moving parts. BlueTrace’s platform helps us organize our shipments and give us confidence that we’re staying compliant. ”

BlueTrace announced 121% growth in 2022, expanding its customer base from 150 clients to over 350. With clients in all but two coastal U.S. states and most Canadian provinces, BlueTrace has become the go-to solution for seafood tagging and traceability. 

The company has won two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which oversees fishery regulations.

Visit or email to learn more and request a quote.

About BlueTrace 
BlueTrace offers the easiest and most powerful traceability platform for seafood growers, wholesalers, distributors, and dealers. Its mobile solutions, designed specifically for the seafood industry, enable users to reduce redundant data entry and errors, streamline operations, and trace their products from tideline to table. Learn more at

Media Contact
Alessandra Bosco
(202) 821-7245

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2 min read

What If? Digital Receiving and Labeling

By Chip Terry on Feb 14, 2023 10:46:50 AM

The receiving dock at seafood companies can be chaos.  IMG_0935

We recently watched a harried guy with a clipboard direct six forklifts unloading 14 tractor trailers' worth of seafood one morning. Salmon from Norway, squid from California, tuna from Costa Rica, lobster from Maine, mussels from Canada, oysters from the Chesapeake. The list went on and on.  

All of it had different paperwork. Some carried MSC certification. Others had SIMP paperwork. Some had temperature gauges. Some had GS1 bar codes — most didn't. Measurements varied from counts, to weights, volumes or just a count of boxes.  

We watched this very talented and experienced guy make errors — a five instead of a nine, the wrong date (I would have made many more errors). Most product came in with bills of lading, invoices, and wax boxes with handwritten and/or very inconsistent labels.  


The paperwork then all went into a back room where inventory was updated, orders were filled, checks were written, and hopefully everything lined up. The time spent, the error rates, and the slow inventory churn cause trouble for everyone.

We have been working on a better way with our clients: digital labels and digital receiving

Digital Receiving
Our clients now receive receive-favoriteeverything on their phones and take pictures as needed, thus reducing errors and speeding up all the back-office challenges. We can also integrate this data with most accounting systems. It's super easy to use — a client needs almost no training. Accuracy improves dramatically, and the time spent on redundant data entry drops.

Digital Labeling 
Our most successful clients also ask their partners to use our tags or labels. That way, when the sender prints a tag or label, the receiver gets an Advance Shipping Notification. They can process all the paperwork ahead of time, and when the product arrives, just scan the QR code and confirm receipt.  Now everything has a clean label and access to all the data points a business needs. No need to talk GS1, GDST, EDI. or any of the other acronym soups.  Just print a label and stick it on the box (or even directly on a fish).  

Bottom line: Digital receiving and digital labeling reduce errors, improve throughput, and make your business manageable.  



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2 min read

FDA Final Rule for Food Traceability

By Chip Terry on Nov 15, 2022 4:19:12 PM

The FDA today announced the final rule for Food Traceability that was required by the Food Safety Modernization Act law.  We will explore this is future blog posts, but let's start with the high level: 

Food Safety First: In the words of the FDA, this rule is "designed to facilitate faster identification and rapid removal of potentially contaminated food from the market, resulting in fewer foodborne illnesses and/or deaths" It has nothing to do with fraud, sustainability, fisheries management or any of the other reasons folks implement traceability systems. 

Most fresh foods are covered, including:  fresh cut fruits and vegetables, shell eggs, and nut butters, as well as certain fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, ready-to-eat deli salads, cheeses, and seafood products.  

In the seafood world, the exemptions include: Scallop Abductor muscle, and Catfish.

In a change from the original law is: Raw bivalve molluscan shellfish that are covered by the requirements of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program...are exempt from the requirements of the rule.  A good thing since the rules for shellfish are already tighter than this new rule.  

The rule is all about record keeping: In particular most firms are required to supply information to the FDA in a "sortable spreadsheet" within 24 hours of request. The records must cover: Critical Tracking Events (CTEs) and required Key Data Elements (KDEs).

Traceability Lot Code: These records must be linked with a Traceability Lot Code (TLC) that does not change unless the product is transformed. TLCs can only be assigned by either the First Land Based Receiver or a Processor who is Transforming the product.  

You Have time: The rule will take 3 years to be fully implemented.  In other words, take a breadth, explore the rule and then think about what needs to change.

Here is a video from the FDA using an example of a Tuna.





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BlueTrace: How Did We Get Here?

By Chip Terry on Oct 17, 2022 1:16:06 PM

Many thanks to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute for putting together an amazing 4 minute video introducing BlueTrace.    Enjoy.



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1 min read

Inventory Labels?

By Chip Terry on Sep 12, 2022 10:13:41 AM

Our latest release introduced inventory labels. Why?  

Clients were telling us about the challenges of managing that fast-moving cold room. What is there? What should I pick? They confront challenges like packers taking the newest product (what's on top) rather than the oldest product with the shortest lifespan.

An inventory label is designed to print out when you receive product. It has the harvest date, product name, and quantity front and center. Folks add it to the top of a bin, a clipboard, a whiteboard, or even in a wet storage bin so everyone knows what that product is. That QR code links to all the information about the product and can be used to add product to orders. 

The takeaway: Saving time and reducing errors has a huge impact on your bottom line.  IMG_0512

Inventory Labels work well on a vat or in a tote :IMG_0815IMG_6806


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3 min read

Greenhouse Gas Emissions & Seafood

By Chip Terry on Jun 15, 2022 7:51:43 PM

BlueTrace was asked recently about greenhouse gas emissions and seafood. Our initial reaction was that there wasn't much of a story, but we did some research — and it turns out that the industry can have a positive impact on C02 emissions. Here's the overview:
  1. Reduced Emissions. Both wild-caught seafood and aquaculture produce less CO2 than most other traditional sources of protein (Oceana 2021, Nature 2021). For every gram of protein we consume from wild-caught fisheries instead of beef, we are reducing the CO2 impact by 82% (89% for aquaculture). Comparing to beef yields the most dramatic difference, but even moving from chicken to aquaculture would reduce CO2 per gram by almost 50%. Aquaculture produces over 50% of the seafood we consume today.

    Although going vegan would be the best option in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, convincing folks to switch out a steak for oysters and salmon is a lot more realistic.

  2. Substituting Seafood. Recent research also indicates that beyond the CO2 impact, more seafood would also be critical for feeding a growing population a healthy diet. According to the journal Nature:

    "Globally, we find that a high-production scenario will decrease [seafood] prices by 26% and increase their consumption, thereby reducing the consumption of red and processed meats that can lead to diet-related non-communicable diseases while also preventing approximately 166 million cases of inadequate micronutrient intake. 

    In other words, more seafood represents a win for the planet and for the people most at risk from malnutrition. Of course, not all seafood is equal, so traceability will matter — and is indeed critical to making this transition successful (Monterey Bay Seafood Watch).

  3. Less Waste. What about waste? An estimated 39% (USDA) to 50% (Gunders, 2012) of seafood is wasted (harvested but not consumed). That loss is massive, equating to enough protein to feed 12.4 million women for a year (or 10.1 million men).  Much of the waste is outside our purview (bycatch on fishing boats or disposed of by restaurants/consumers). But a significant portion occurs within the distribution system. Seafood is more prone to wastage than meat since:

    "Fish spoil quickly due to digestive enzymes, microbial spoilage, and oxidation, which change the odor, flavor and texture of fish (Ghaly et al., 2010); (iii) the different microbial and chemical food safety risks from seafood than from other meats, including histamine or scombroid food poisoning due to spoilage; (iv) strong odors that are not always associated with food safety risks, but may raise safety and quality concerns among retailers, food service providers and consumers."

    Even a 10% reduction in wastage would deliver major benefits (Global Environmental Change, Sierra Club).
According to our customers, BlueTrace's tracking technology reduces loss and improves the safety of seafood. Even something as simple as giving folks alerts about the date seafood was harvested can have a huge impact.  image (5)

Wild seafood has a lower carbon footprint than red meat, cheese, and chicken, according to latest data, Oceana: 2021

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2 min read

Streamlining the Receiving Dock

By Chip Terry on Jun 6, 2022 10:55:00 AM

Receiving docks are chaotic—and incredibly important. Receiving is a regulated "Critical Tracking Event" in which the buyer is supposed to transcribe the "Key Data Elements" and ensure that the product is what they ordered and that the cold chain has been maintained. Having observed many receiving docks, we understand that the time wasted, the errors introduced, and the money lost can be significant.

There are obvious ways to improve this process, some of which the best companies have implemented. In particular, they get information about a shipment before it arrives and have the product properly labeled with a link to the digital record so receiving involves only scanning—not trying to read someone's handwriting.

Historically, this sort of tool has been available only to the largest companies. But BlueTrace has developed a system accessible to the vast majority of the market. 

Our platform is inexpensive and works with existing CRM/ERM/WMS systems. We can get a company up and running in less than an hour.

Here's how it works:

  1. Suppliers Print & Affix Label: Your suppliers download the BlueTrace app, enter in information about the shipment, and print a label that includes a QR code. It takes less than a minute and minimal training.  The cost is ~$750 for the printer.  Our existing Harvest Tagging clients can already do this.

    Samuels Print & Label DA220
    There is no subscription fee for your suppliers, and labels are designed to stick to wet wax boxes.

  2. Receiver Gets Shipping Notification: When the supplier prints out a tag, we send the buyer Advanced Shipping Notifications with all the key information. This communication can occur in-app, or if needed, we can pass the information into an existing system (NetYield, Seasoft, Innova, etc.). If the buyer is not our client, they get an email with all the information.

    Image from iOS (122)

  3. Buyer Scans Tag: At the receiving dock, the label is scanned using an existing iPhone or iPad (no new hardware needed). The buyer confirms the product is in good shape and records the temperature. The buyer has thus  created a HACCP log and a digital traceability chain. The supplier receives automatic notification that the product arrived—saving time, reducing errors, and improving your margins.

Image from iOS (121)


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1 min read

Temperature Tracking & Vibrio Risk Management with BlueTrace

By Call Nichols on Jun 3, 2022 10:40:47 AM

In many shellfish-producing states, May 1 marks the beginning of Vibrio season. For those who don’t know, Vibrio is the most common food-borne illness caused by raw oyster (and other foods). The key management strategy: Keep it cold.  

Vibrio rules are some of the most dynamic pieces of shellfish regulation, as environmental conditions change continuously and our collective understanding of the risks and effective treatments evolves along with them.

This is a good time to revisit one of the most useful features we've built into both our Harvester Tagging and Distributor apps, RETEMPING. On the log screen, you can tap into any lot and hit the "Temp" button:


Log Detail_Call

Add a temperature and confirm the date and time, both of which are pre-filled:

Add Retemp

You can also attach an employee to this record for accountability and HACCP compliance, so make sure you have employees loaded into your Settings. Hit Done in the upper right and this temperature record is saved. It will now show up in the app (by re-opening the Temp page) and in your Harvest or HACCP Log when you export. 

Harvest Log_Call(1)

Of course, this is in addition to fields for Harvest, Cooling, and Receiving temperatures on the main tagging screen, which satisfy most temperature recording requirements.

If you have any questions or feel that this capability doesn't completely satisfy your particular requirement, please let us know.

Happy harvesting!


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2 min read

Best Practices for Protecting North American Oysters from OsHV-1

By Call Nichols on May 10, 2022 6:56:01 PM

With the resumption of shellfish trade with the EU, the U.S. oyster industry is rightfully concerned about the introduction of OsHV-1 into our waters. Although this virus does not affect humans, it has been linked to mass oyster mortalities all across the world. Not every imported oyster is carrying the virus, but they all must be treated as such since we can’t know which ones are carriers, and the stakes are just too high.

The threat is very real, but it’s manageable with knowledge and vigilance. Best practices in general should be that if you aren't sure where your oysters came from, keep them and their shells out of the water. Domestic pathogens can be circulated in similar ways, so it’s better to err on the side of caution.

The only way an issue could arise is if tainted oysters or their shells make it into (or near) the water. Here are some realistic scenarios that must be avoided:

  • After enjoying the oysters, somebody tosses the shells into the water.
  • Somebody buys oysters and hangs them off their dock to "refresh" them.
  • A dealer holds oysters in a wet storage or depuration system that drains into the water.
  • Oysters get mixed up and get put out on a beach.


Each of these situations is avoidable, but the industry and the public need to be aware of the threat. Shellfish from New Zealand and South Korea should be treated similarly, as they may also carry the virus. 

Bottom line: If you don't know where the oysters came from, keep them (and their shells) out of the water!

Shellfish harvesters and dealers, please see and distribute this letter penned on behalf of the major regional associations. The East Coast Shellfish Growers Association has also compiled useful resources for industry and the public at In addition, the ECSGA is also offering FREE informational tags to anyone dealing in imported oysters. These are an important tool in minimizing the risk of tainted oysters affecting our local stocks and industries. If you would like a stack of the tags, please reach out to your BlueTrace rep, and we'll make sure you're flush.

The OsHV-1 threat makes yet another case for a robust traceability system. Knowing where imported product ends up is critical for consumer awareness and proper handling practices. And in the unlikely event of an introduction, we will definitely want to know where the oysters went in order to identify and isolate the danger as soon as possible.

Keep on shuckin'!

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2 min read

Anatomy of an Oyster Recall

By Chip Terry on Apr 11, 2022 3:51:20 PM

Oysters are a safe food, and very few people get sick from eating them. When something bad does happen, though, news stories get out of control, and the whole industry is harmed. A recent oyster recall in British Columbia illustrates the challenges. Here is what we know so far (this is an ongoing story, so more details will likely emerge):

1) On Sunday, March 20, 2022, the Canadian Government found norovirus in oysters from BC and issued the first of what became a series of six overlapping recalls on oysters. The majority of the product was harvested between March 7 and March 14.    

2) Many of the oysters were shipped well beyond BC, including to distributors in Washington state and California. Washington issued a health advisory for specific BC oysters on Friday, April 1 — 13 days after the first BC recall notice. California issued a recall on Sunday, April 3 — 16 days after the first BC recall.  34 people in California got sick from the BC oysters by the time of the advisory in CA.

3) By April 1, media stories begin to appear in Washington, Florida, Massachusetts, California, New York, and elsewhere about people getting sick.

4) Meanwhile, we heard from our distributor clients who were working hard to track these oysters and get them out of the system. One client even had to call its trucks in NYC to stop delivery of these specific oysters.

5) Food Safety News (written by a leading food safety attorney) reports on Thursday April 7th that over 103 people in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington are confirmed sick from this particular batch of oysters.  

6) Meanwhile back in BC, major farms are shut down (probably for 2+ months) and are suffering huge financial losses.  While the CFIA reports 328 illnesses from this norovirus outbreak across Canada, including in: British Columbia (293), Alberta (3), Saskatchewan (1), Manitoba (15) and Ontario (16).

My takeaways:

1) Good people worked really hard to make sure this didn't get worse. Distributors and regulators spent hundreds of hours trying to get this product out of the system.  So far, there are no deaths reported--a huge win. 

2) The recalls were too manual and slow--there should have been a more automated system for making sure different jurisdictions acted more quickly. 

3) The liability risk is probably large. I'm no lawyer, but clearly everyone is concerned about lawsuits.  

4) The entire industry is the loser:  We have heard anecdotal stories of folks avoiding all oysters after coming across the stories circulating.  

There are a lot of ways this process could be improved, including better/faster communications and a true digital traceability chain. The regulators in the U.S. should have been able to issue faster recalls/advisories. Thirteen days was too long.

A farmer or distributor with a recall should be able to notify all their buyers with a couple of keystrokes. And restaurants should be able to scan a QR code and confirm there are no recalls prior to serving that product.  

Nothing will ever be foolproof, but we can do better, and there is a clear path to improvement. 

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6 min read

Countering NIMBYism with Chris Matteo of Chadwick Creek Oysters

By Chip Terry on Mar 8, 2022 2:31:30 PM


Dock overlooking the Bay River.

Below is a letter to the editor of Carteret County News-Times in North Carolina from Chris Matteo of Chadwick Creek Oysters.  Chris is writing in response to a classic NIMBY article. A retired judge moved to town and wanted to "protect" his view by telling the locals what they could do.  Chris' response is thoughtful and deserves a wide audience.  Thank you Chris.


March 2, 2022

I am Chris Matteo, current president of North Carolina’s Shellfish Growers Association. I am not a retired district judge, but I am an oyster farmer with an Ivy League education (one of two in our state) and this evening I’m here to help you learn something new, Mr. Bentley. My background is not in law, but in finance and entrepreneurship. I used to invest money for large institutional clients, including pension funds, university endowments, and sovereign wealth funds. I understand a bit about economics. I too came here from somewhere else, yet I have earned the respect of many locals. I am asking the citizens and visitors of North Carolina to not fall prey to the hyperbole and fearmongering you have so generously supplied.

First off, oyster farming is not an unthinkable interference for boating and fishing. In fact, we have the support of recreational and commercial fishing organizations in North Carolina, as well as almost all environmental non-profits and universities. Wild oyster populations sit near 5% of historic levels. Educated people understand that without oysters, you have fewer fish and lower water quality. Oysters are a keystone species. Most aquatic species depend on the humble oyster. Heavily populated areas like Indian Beach are most vulnerable to water quality issues in their bordering estuaries because of developmental impacts. We (oyster farmers) are actually enhancing and restoring the ecological treasure of which you speak. You’re welcome.

Calling coastal North Carolina an economic miracle is a bit of a stretch. Yes, tourism in the Outer Banks is an impressive revenue generator. Those tourists/visitors can’t seem to get enough of the wonderful oysters grown locally. Just because one retires to coastal NC and lives off savings or a pension does not mean everyone lives that way. Home price appreciation recently has been impressive also. It’s not due to any economic miracles. It also prices locals out of their home markets.

The first item you mention on your list of reasons to move to coastal North Carolina is “good food.” Let’s focus on that one, since oysters are arguably the “greenest” and most sustainable form of protein production on Earth. Growing oysters is a regenerative farming practice that improves the environment, as shellfish filter our estuaries. Oysters have a negative carbon footprint. Gram for gram, oysters are the most micronutrient-dense food on the planet, second only to beef liver. Not only are oysters nutrient-dense, they are full of vitamins and minerals in which Americans are most deficient, namely Zinc, Iron, and Vitamin D. Oysters contain all three major classes of omega-3s: ALA, DHA, and EPA and fall within the top-ten most omega-3-rich sources of popular seafood, with about as much omega-3 as swordfish and bass, but with significantly less mercury. For a country that is overfed and undernourished, and a world that’s experiencing a crisis in ocean health and marine pollution, oysters are one of the best crops you can grow. Did I mention they are delicious?

You say that oyster farms in this state could possibly take up “thousands of water acres.” That would be wonderful! Back of the envelope, there are 1,900 square miles (1,216,000 acres) of water contained within North Carolina estuaries. If we grew our industry to 10x where it is today and farmed 10,000 acres, we would be using less than 1% of our estuary to filter the remaining 99%. Water quality and fishing would return to levels not seen since the early 1800’s. So you know, one adult oyster filters up to 50 gallons of water per day.

Everyone consumes what farmers produce, yet many folks complain about what farming looks like. Some people think oyster farms are beautiful. Most are below the surface, and very little protrudes from the water column. Nearby oyster farmers may view your house, your boat, or your dock as visual pollution. Those items certainly take away more from a natural landscape that an oyster farm. If one buys a piece land that is surrounded by acreage that one did not purchase and then someone builds a farm next door, one’s view changes. C'est la vie. There’s always Alaska.

Just for the record, no oyster farm anywhere generates “sewerage (sp)”, even when spelled correctly. Oysters are often consumed raw and fecal coliform bacteria from development runoff and wildlife is monitored by the Shellfish Sanitation Division of DEQ. If it rains a half inch in some densely populated locations, oyster farms become polluted temporarily because of what is coming from developed land. So while you and others complain about visual “pollution”, we as an industry suffer from actual pollution.

Also for the record, most obstructions and storm debris that end up in our estuaries post-hurricane come from boats that have come untethered, poorly constructed docks, and the junk most people keep in the flood zone under their homes and around their property. If our grow-out gear leaves our leases after a storm, we are very eager to get it back. Our livelihood depends on that gear and the oysters inside. How many people that you know who own houses in a flood zone track down the debris that leaves their property and ends up in our estuary? How many recreational fisherman you know dive overboard to retrieve a lure that snapped off a line? I’m guessing that if you multiply those two numbers together, you get 0.

No oyster farmer is wanting to ruin a sunset view. In fact, we love them too. But here’s the thing… you don’t own the viewshed. You don’t even lease it. In fact, the shellfish industry made a good faith effort to negotiate some parameters with DCM for floating structures before that effort was blown up by ignorant NIMBY folks. At any time, an oyster farmer could have simply purchased an old rusty barge of any size and anchored it on ones’ lease and conducted farming activities aboard. Still can. If you were a judge, read up on maritime law. If you’re bold enough, I suggest you try to change it. Good luck! (Basically, there is nothing you can do to someone anchoring in your viewshed, even if they keep smelly shrimp heads on board baking in the sun, just to spoil your sunset cocktails).

North Carolina will not “lose thousands of jobs in sales, services to homeowners, rentals, hotels, and restaurants” because of shellfish farming. To the contrary. For every oyster grown locally and shipped out, more money flows into the local economy, and twice as much money flows into the areas in NC where they are consumed. If we don’t do something to protect and improve water quality (like growing oysters) as more development occurs at our coast, we will eventually ruin it. Tourism, fishing, and real estate values are all negatively impacted if water quality goes down. We are here to help. For free, for now (in some states, oyster farmers are eligible to receive money in a nutrient credit program that offsets developmental impacts).

As head of the North Carolina Shellfish Growers Association, a board member for the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association, and an owner of two oyster farms and an oyster seed nursery, I am a bit of an “expert” and most likely spend more time outdoors on the water than you do. Love that fresh air. When you ask average folks walking Indian Beach who come from Florida, New York City, Chicago, (folks from Seattle know the shellfish industry well and love it, so they get a pass), Los Angeles, and Miami who know nothing about shellfish aquaculture, yes, you will get ignorant responses when viewshed fears are stoked. They don’t understand that shellfish growers are actively repairing the negative impacts they inadvertently caused. I suggest you educate them with the information I have imparted, gratis.

I’m sorry, but this paragraph of yours gave me a good chuckle.

“Is this state initiative for artificial oyster farms about what’s good for coastal North Carolina, and our economy, or what’s good for the business profits in the pockets of a few private individuals - those people who hire lawyers and lobbyists in Raleigh, or ‘know important state officials,’ or make election campaign contributions...those people.”

We’ve never spent a dime on a lobbyist or lawyer for our industry. I don’t know any important state officials personally. I’ve never made any campaign contributions privately or as an association. Every shellfish grower in this state is a small “mom and pop” operation, like many commercial fisherman. We battled and won to keep out industrial scale shellfish farmers (from Canada) who did hire a slew of lobbyists, and who did apply political pressure. They had deep pockets. We still beat them. I have not even spent a dime of membership dues for the several years I’ve been president. Everything I do for this industry is volunteer work. Do you know who originally promoted the growth of the shellfish industry in NC? North Carolina Sea Grant (administered by NC State University), North Carolina Department of Agriculture, North Carolina Coastal Federation, and members of our General Assembly. Why you ask? If you’ve read what I’ve written, you should know by now. If not, please re-read what I have written. It’s important.

To you, I say this. We have had unanimous support from the entire NC General Assembly during a time of extreme political polarization. That’s right, unanimous. Not one member of the House or Senate voted down our bills, and all agreed to expand the shellfish industry. I bet it’s hard enough to get Town Commissioners to agree unanimously on something, right? Anyone who is educated to the benefits of what we do, and the ecosystem services (filtration) our crops supply for free to our State, is more than happy to support the shellfish industry. I suggest you put on the hat of an impartial judge and reconsider your stance in light of the information I have supplied.


Please visit the Chadwick Creek Facebook page and let Chris know how much you appreciate this thoughtful response.  

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2 min read

BC Shellfish Growers Choose BlueTrace

By Chip Terry on Jan 13, 2022 1:40:19 PM

zgG4T5Iw_400x400Comox, British Columbia. The British Columbia ShellfishGrowers Association has partnered with BlueTrace to bring industry-leading traceability technology to BC shellfish businesses. 

“The shellfish growers of British Columbia raise some of the best oysters, clams, mussels, scallops, and geoducks in the world. We are excited to help these innovative farmers continue to develop a safe, and prosperous industry. says Chip Terry, Ph.D., CEO of Maine-based traceability and food safety company BlueTrace.

For over 60 years, the BCSGA has sought “to advance the sustainable growth and prosperity of the BC shellfish industry.” Their membership includes growers, harvesters, processors, and industry supporters and vendors. 

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in line with regulatory bodies the world over, is stepping up its efforts at supply chain traceability to help prevent and react to outbreaks of shellfish diseases such as Vibrio and Norovirus. The initiative involves bolstering and standardizing tagging and traceability requirements for shellfish businesses. With more visibility into the supply chain, regulators will have the ability to quickly and precisely identify the source of any tainted product. This minimizes the extent and duration of costly recalls – while keeping consumers safe.  

“It is important for the industry to stay vigilant in a time of rising temperatures. A digitized traceability system for the entire industry raises the bar on food safety and ensures that our members can build their businesses without drowning in paperwork. We are pleased to be working with BlueTrace, DFO and our members to build a sustainable future for shellfish in British Columbia,” says Nico Prins, Executive Director at BCSGA. 

To help members comply with the new regulations, BCSGA reviewed all existing options in the marketplace and secured funds to help members purchase the best solution for their individual businesses. BlueTrace met all their requirements for flexibility, ease of use, alignment with regulations, and affordability. 

Currently used by over 150 shellfish businesses across North America, BlueTrace develops technology that allows anyone dealing in shellfish to easily comply with federal, state, and provincial regulations. Their combination of apps and printers saves shellfish growers and dealers time by reducing redundant data entry and expediting tagging and logging. Through collaboration with the BCSGA, the company has tailored their solution to specifically address the new regulations in BC.IMG_1124

About BlueTrace: BlueTrace offers the easiest and most powerful traceability solution for shellfish growers, wholesalers, distributors, and dealers. Its streamlined app enables organizations big and small to optimize their activities, comply with regulations, and keep up with their inventory.

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2 min read

Free Money: USDA PRS grant

By Chip Terry on Nov 16, 2021 9:31:51 AM

Many of us might wonder whether the govt has gone overboard with funding, but if they are offering and you are eligible you should at least consider applying. 

The USDA Pandemic Response and Safety Funding aims to help companies who have changed their businesses because of COVID.  Started doing Home Delivery? Packing in much smaller sizes than before--and needed a new tagging system? Hired more workers?  Put in new systems?....there is a lot of things companies did to respond that cost a lot of money.  

Only small businesses (95% of all seafood businesses) are eligible.  The details are below and the application only takes ~20 minutes.  Good luck.

USDA GRANT OPPORTUNITY! Applications due by November 22, 2021

November 16, 2021

The FDA is sharing a grant opportunity for eligible FDA-regulated food producers, processors and growers. The USDA’s Pandemic Response and Safety Grants cover COVID-19-related expenses such as workplace safety measures, e.g., personal protective equipment (PPE) retrofitting facilities for worker and consumer safety, shifting to online sales platforms, transportation, worker housing, and medical costs. 

Approximately $650 million in funding is available for the PRS grants that are funded by the Pandemic Assistance provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

Apply by November 22.

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1 min read

Shellfish Tags:  What? Why? and How?

By Chip Terry on Nov 8, 2021 1:34:11 PM

Shellfish tags are mandated by the FDA and are part of the model ordinance from the National Shellfish Sanitation Program. They play a very direct role in public health protection.  

When an outbreak of disease attributable to shellfish occurs, health departments rush to determine the source of shellfish contamination to prevent any further outbreaks. This can be done most effectively by using the records kept by the shellfish harvesters and dealers to trace a shellfish shipment, through all the various dealers who have handled it, back to its point of origin. Shellstock tags are the first important records concerning the origin of shellfish.

They are mandatory whenever live shellfish are handled--from first harvest to the retailer or restaurant. Companies who fail to comply can face fines, seizure of products and other sanctions.  

Only live shellfish are required to have tags. Shucked shellfish and scallop abductor mussels do not need tags.

Shellfish Tag-1


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Podcast:  With Aquademia

By Chip Terry on Oct 29, 2021 11:43:25 AM

The Global Seafood Alliance (formerly the Global Aquaculture Alliance) publishes one of the best seafood podcasts.  The team of Shaun O’Loughlin, Justin Grant, and Maddie Cassidy are awesome.  We were lucky enough to be interviewed recently.  Always fun to talk seafood and innovation with smart and knowledgeable folks.  You can listen on your favorite podcast app or download from their website. 


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4 min read

FSMA New Rules:  What will change for the Seafood Industry?

By Chip Terry on Oct 1, 2021 12:00:00 PM

The New Era of Smarter Food Safety represents a new approach to food safety, leveraging technology and other tools to create a safer and more digital, traceable food system.

-New Era for Food Safety: Blueprint for the Future, FDA, 2021

The Food Safety Modernization Act is not new.  Congress passed the law in 2011 to give the FDA the ability to initiate mandatory recalls and a host of other powers over the food industry.  In 2020 the FDA issued a major proposed update to the rules: “The New Era of Smarter Food Safety.”  Although the final rules will not be published until 2022, the outlines are clear.  


The rule builds on four core elements: Tech-Enabled Traceability, Smarter Tools, Food Safety Culture, and New Business Models. Lots of words and implications. You can read more on the FDA website, but here is our take on what this means for the seafood industry.  


The key update is Section 204 designed in the words of the FDA to “harmonize the Key Data Elements and Critical Tracking Events for enhanced traceability.”  The goal is to have end-to-end traceability that can enable tracebacks in seconds--instead of the current system that often fails and generally takes weeks. Here are some of the implications for seafood companies:

  1. Seafood gets special attention:  The FDA ran risk-models on what foods lead to the biggest food safety issues, all seafood (except scallop adductor muscles and catfish) ended up on the list along with leafy greens, eggs and numerous other products. 
  2. New Acronyms (KDE and CTE) get added to HACCP: For most distributors, the system will build on their existing HACCP program by mandating the tracking of Key Data Elements (KDEs) through Critical Tracking Events (CTEs).
  3. Digital is Required:  The mandate is for nearly every participant to provide a sortable spreadsheet to the FDA within 24 hours of request--essentially meaning that most companies must have a digital record.
  4. Lot Codes are Key:  Harvesters are required to put a unique identifier (lot code) on each harvest and that information should travel with the product through the supply chain. 
  5. The First Mile will be the hardest: Harvester/Growers are expected to collect and pass key information (including a lot code) about every harvest to the first buyer.
  6. Interaction with other regulations is unknown: Most notably the shellfish regulations which already require very similar information and tracking (minus the digital pieces). 

As the diagram below describes, the expectation is that Key Data Elements are passed from one step to the next--so there can be a rapid traceback if there is a problem. 
FDA Image for Traceability

Although the goal of safer food is a good one and the specific rules are under final revision, the impact on the seafood industry could be far reaching. Here are some of the biggest challenges we see for adoption: 

  1. Small non-technical suppliers:  
    1. Fisherman/growers are great at a lot of things. Technology is generally not one of those things.  From that oyster farmer in a Carolina skiff to the lobsterman or the long liner, most harvesters are not using a lot of technology. 
  2. Long Supply Chains: 
    1. Five plus stops in a chain is not unusual.  Passing information between all those players seamlessly is a big task.  This requires new protocols and standards.  
  3. Fast turn around:
    1. No one wants rotting fish. Inventory churn is measured in minutes/hours, not days and weeks.  
  4. Employees turnover is a real problem and there are often language problems
    1. There is little appetite for hiring tech folks or spending large amounts training new employees.  
  5. Data Sharing: 
    1. Most companies do not want to share who they buy from and who they sell to with others in the chain. Traceability challenges that business practice. 

Anyone who has spent time on a fishing vessel or seafood processing plant, knows that most companies still use a lot of paper and don’t have the systems needed to meet the FDA’s vision of, “food traced to its source in seconds.”  Not to mention, “alerting consumers in real time before contaminated or misbranded foods are consumed.”

There is a lot more to come about this rule, but now is a good time to start thinking about your digital strategy.  How do you collect, store and transfer key information about your product?  

There are solutions out there (including BlueTrace) and you should look at a few.  

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2 min read

Prop 65: This Matters for Everyone

By Chip Terry on Sep 19, 2021 9:30:00 AM

Save yourself from a frivolous lawsuit and include the Prop 65 language on your shellfish tags.  

Cadmium is naturally occurring in many oysters and is "known by the state of California to cause cancer."  We could argue the point strenuously, but better safe than sorry.  It is easy to include the warning on your tags and it could save you a lot of heartburn. 

If you have product that ends up in California (even after going through a few steps in the distribution chain) and it is not labeled properly, you can be sued.  Here is the text from the law: 

Section 25249.7 provides for a civil penalty not to exceed $2,500 per day for each violation.

Here is the note from Margaret Pilaro at the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association.  

Earlier this month, at PCSGA’s AGM, Megan Terrell of Plauche and Carr provided some important information on California’s Prop 65.

At first glance this may not seem to apply to most of you.  HOWEVER, I’d ask you to take a second look.

If you ship product directly to CA, this is something of which you need to be aware. 

If there’s the slightest chance your product ends up in CA, (i.e. after being sold to a wholesaler/dealer) this is something of which you need to be aware. 

The upshot is that Prop 65 requires special labeling for products that may contain substances, (even those that are naturally occurring such as cadmium in oysters).

There are private organizations bringing forth legal actions for those that don’t comply with Prop 65. If you’re uninformed or chose to not act, it may impact you financially.

Blue Trace's products have been updated to make Prop 65 warning an easy option. As regulations change, we will continue to update our software to help you comply. No throwing out tags because the regulators made a slight wording change.    

Image from iOS (103)



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2 min read

NOAA Grant: We Won!!

By Chip Terry on Aug 31, 2021 12:14:52 PM

Thanks to all the folks at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) we are hiring more folks and scaling our solution.  Stay tuned for more product update. SBIR_logo

Here is the official press release: 

NOAA recently awarded BlueTrace (formerly Oyster Tracker) a $500k SBIR Phase II award based on the success achieved in a NOAA SBIR Phase I awarded in 2020. With the SBIR awards and already reported venture investments and grants, BlueTrace has raised over $1.8 million. 

These investments accelerate the building of an innovative Tide to Table Traceability and Marketing System. With over 120 clients in 12 states and 3 countries, BlueTrace has proven the market need and viability of a solution that helps shellfish harvesters, farmers, dealers, and distributors track their product seamlessly from harvest to consumption.  

As one of the SBIR grant reviewers noted: “The proposed work has strong commercial viability and has the potential to generate considerable cost-savings for shellfish producers and wholesalers.” 

Using the current BlueTrace system, shellfish producers and dealers track Key Data Elements for oysters, mussels, clams, geoducks and other shellfish from harvest through a complex chain of custody that often involves over five steps.  Using the mobile BlueTrace system, users track food safety issues and produce mandated shellfish logs and tags. The average client saves over 30% on their compliance costs while improving accuracy--and keeping their product safer.

BlueTrace is adding talented developers and seafood experts to their team to address rising consumer expectations for seafood provenance and evolving regulations. New federal rules such as section 204 of the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act are being finalized for almost all seafood.  New regulations are increasing compliance costs while at the same time many in the shellfish industry are facing significant labor shortages. 

An easy-to-use traceability system designed for the mobile, wet, fast-paced environment of shellfish companies will make consumers safer and companies more efficient and resilient.  By tracking the time and temperature of seafood from harvest to table, the risk of illnesses like Vibrio and other food-borne diseases decreases dramatically.  

A safer food chain is good for consumers and businesses.  BlueTrace has the team, technology and know how to revolutionize tracking--from tide to table. Thanks to the SBIR program, we can build a system specifically for the complexities of the seafood industry.  

--CEO, Wyllys Chip Terry, Ph.D

About SBIR: The SBIR program was originally established in 1982 by the Small Business Innovation Development Act (P.L. 97-219). The objectives of the SBIR Program are to:  Stimulate technological innovation in the private sector;  Strengthen the role of small business in meeting Federal research and development (R&D) needs;  Foster and encourage participation by socially and economically disadvantaged persons in technological innovation; and Increase private sector commercialization of innovations derived from Federal research and development. Each year, NOAA sets aside a portion of its extramural R&D budget to fund research from small science and technology-based firms. The NOAA SBIR Program supports innovative research projects that fall within NOAA’s core mission of science, service, and stewardship. 

About BlueTrace: BlueTrace makes the seafood supply chain more efficient and safer, by digitizing key transactions and creating a seamless traceability chain. Founded in 2018 by technology entrepreneurs with a track record of successfully building companies, BlueTrace is dedicated to helping the seafood industry move from reactive and costly food safety programs to a system that anticipates food safety issues and prevents outbreaks--all for a fraction of the current time and expense.    

BlueTrace has received backing from the Maine Venture Fund, Maine Technology Institute, Coastal Enterprise Inc., The Food Loft and others.  BlueTrace is headquartered in Castine, Maine with employees in Massachusetts, Virginia, Texas, and Washington state.   

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2 min read

Vibrio and Food Safety

By Chip Terry on Aug 24, 2021 1:43:50 PM

The success of our businesses rely on consumers staying healthy.

One bad oyster... one sick Instagram post and you can have thousands of people opting for wings instead of oysters next time they go to the bar.  

For shellfish, the most prevalent issue is Vibrio--a salt tolerant bacterium that is endemic to pretty much all waterways.  The most common variation is Vibrio Paralyticus.  The most deadly is Vibrio Vulnificus.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates over 52,000 Americans get sick from Vibrio each year. By the CDC estimate, ~60% of VP infections are from oysters and ~15% are from clams.

Side note: the CDC number is an estimate, documented cases are much fewer and many would argue the real number is much lower.  But in any case one sickness is too many. 

Vibrio control involves keeping the concentration below the level that will get someone sick. The vast majority of time if you harvest product and cool/ice it quickly there will be no issue.  Although this summer in Washington State the water got warm enough in some areas that oysters straight out of the water and handled properly had elevated Vibrio levels that led to sicknesses and recalls.  The details are still being explored, but by all accounts the industry and regulators acted quickly and thoughtfully and prevented a bigger issue. 

NOAA has published an interesting set of data on the predicted level of Vibrio in various waterways.  Couple of key takeaways: 

1) At 90 degrees vibrio can double in a hour.  

2) On-board Icing or Rapid Refrigeration provides the best protection

3) Middle of the day in hot weather is a bad time to harvest

In response to the issue of Vibrio, the ISSC and most state agencies have adopted a series of rules to reduce the prevalence. Most of the rules involve cooling rapidly.  For instance: in Florida in the summer you must harvest early in the morning and have them in cooling within 30 minutes.  The ISSC has a list of all regulations

No one likes to follow regulations that can seem seem arbitrary, but the science is compelling.  Keep your product cool. 




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2 min read

Meet Kam: Farmer and Fisherman

By Chip Terry on Jun 14, 2021 8:06:10 AM

Although BlueTrace software is great, the key to success is having folks like Kam Kim of Newport News, VA on the team.  


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Kam was a farm manager at Cherrystone, one of the largest farms on the east coast, growing millions oysters  before moving on to be the field logistics specialist for the oyster breeding program at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS).

“I used BlueTrace when I was at VIMS,” said Kam. “Back then, we were spending hours and hours trying to find certain bags scattered about underwater. I can’t tell you how stressful it was trying to remember how to track my inventory and what I needed to do next. Once we used BlueTrace, every single bag was accounted for and we always could pinpoint the specific place to find the one we needed.”

Because Kam works with farmers all over the world, he is immersed in their day-to-day logistics. “You can keep track of when you planted the seed, how many bags you planted, when you need to check them, when to thin your oysters out, and pinpoint what time of year they’re growing fastest,” 

As he tells it aquaculture farmers have always tried to track their inventory in their heads, on wet, muddy notebooks, on whiteboards, and cobbled together with Excel sheets. “Shellfish are live animals; they need care and attention, and having to remember all of those little details to keep these animals alive can be very stressful,” he said. “It’s why we created this software because we had so many farmers tell us ‘I can’t manage all of this by myself.’ ”

BlueTrace’s Farm Manager software gives farmers complete control over every piece of data. Just using an iPad, they can see in real-time when the team completes a work task.

And BlueTrace comes with one more bonus: Kam. “I work with all of my farmers directly, one-on-one, whenever they need,” he said. “They can ask me any questions and find the shortcuts around mistakes I’ve already learned.”

From the shellfish farmer new to the business to the established farmer who
relishes data-driven reports, there is a high value for farmers to go home at the end of the day with complete peace of mind knowing that the Farm Manager tool hasn’t missed a thing. According to Kam, "Giving farmers free time to enjoy their lives is one of the most satisfying parts of the job"

Kam uses most of his free time to fish, hunt, and hang with his fellow oyster farmers.  Follow his Instagram to see the amazing catches he reels in every week. 

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4 min read

Meet a Distributor: War Shore

By Chip Terry on Jun 1, 2021 10:36:40 AM

warshore logo squareBrad Blymier started as a small pedestrian farmer on the eastern shore of Virginia over 12 years ago. Very quickly he realized  his natural gift for connecting with chefs and farmers and started helping neighboring farms sell their product. Within a couple of years, he decided to focus solely on the distribution side of the business.  Since then, War Shore has grown into one of the largest specialty shellfish distributors in the “DMV” (DC/MD/noVA). Today they deliver oysters, lobster meat, scallops, clams, mussels and other specialty creatures of the sea to a growing array of chefs and major supermarkets.  With their new Maine buying station (Maine Oyster Initiative) they are one track to buy over 1.5 million Maine oysters this year which is about 15% of their overall oyster sales.

We caught up with Brad to see what we could learn about distribution and what should farmers know about working with a distributor.

Why should a farm work with a distributor?

The majority of shellfish are sold through a distributor because it lets you (the grower) focus on what you do best…farming.  If you don't like making sales, fielding tons of small orders, maintaining trucks and drivers, delivering product, dealing with customer service, and worst of all, handling collections, you are probably best off working primarily with a trusted distributor(s).  The opportunity cost is great when a grower is trying to do both.

What kind of farms don't need a distributor?

I would say Small farms that produce just enough product for a few nearby restaurants don't need a distributor, or just might need a smaller in-state distributor like our neighbors at Upstream Trucking here in Portland, Maine.  George and Rick do a fine job outfitting Portland with quality product. If I were a local grower in the Casco bay, I would 100% put my eggs in their basket and let them place my oysters in Portland. But If you want to scale you need to get your product to different geographies--and for that you will probably need a distributor with a greater reach that serves multiple markets.  Doing this also puts your oyster in a different category competing with hundreds of varieties around the country and Canada.

What role does a distributor play? 

A good distributor is your sales and fulfillment team. They are out in the market, building relationships with that new chef, understanding what their needs are and delivering reliably for them. A good Shellfish Distributor always has their finger on the pulse of what sells, where it sells, and the price it sells for.

What distinguishes War Shore?

We don’t’ use the oyster as a trojan horse to penetrate a restaurant with the goal of selling them fish, or other products with a higher profit margin.  65% of our overall revenue is oysters.  We carefully vet farms and then create a curated Oyster Portfolio to present to our chefs and new prospects, and then we help manage their ongoing oyster program.  We are very proactive in the market, meaning that we do not wait for a chef to ask us to find a particular oyster, then seek that farm out and buy form them one time, or sporadically throughout the year.   Our approach is relationship driven.  If I start a relationship with your farm, I am making the commitment to buy from you 52 weeks of the year, or as long as you can supply me.  Rather than representing hundreds of farms, we focus on a limited amount of partners and build their brands with the buyers (chefs).  

What are the keys for working with a distributor? 

Be a good partner and expect the same from the distributor. This is a handshake, no contract business. If you say you are going to deliver 10,000 oysters every Monday, do that.  And if you agree on a price to sell your oyster to that distributor 12 months out of the year, do that.   Also, play the long game with a trusted distributor.  Do not get hung up on the perceived value of your oyster based on the price you charge for it.  A good Distributor will show you how a competitively priced oyster will go a lot further then a highly priced oyster in many markets outside of your state.  If you want to make more money on your oyster, work on creating a more efficient farm, and cut cost where you can.  I find success working with farms who create a consistent oyster, but more importantly can scale their farm exponentially without losing that quality of that oyster.  2021 has been a very bizarre year so far…oyster shortages everywhere, but this will not last forever.  Mid-late Summer growth will be putting an influx of oysters in the market late Summer and into fall/winter.  This is when you will need your partner distributors the most to kick in and help you unload oysters off your farm.  States like Maine are seeing lots of new farms coming online each year.  Farms that want to thrive and grow will need to look at a variety of revenue models, and it won’t be a “one size fits all”….in my opinion anyway.

How do I pick a distribution partner?

Interview them: Ask what they are going to do for you? Will they commit to purchases every week or is this a one-time purchase to fill an immediate need.?  What else in their portfolio? How many other oysters will be competing with yours in the same space?  There are only so many slots at every restaurant and you want to be unique.  Where do they sell geographically? Don't get hung up on just the price, that is only one part of the equation. And don't hesitate to ask for references.

How can a farm be successful?

Grow a great product, be fair on pricing, run an efficient operation, and build a few strong partnerships.

Final words of wisdom? 

Growing up in Pennsylvania, I thought Hershey's chocolate was the best in the world and could not understand how anyone could disagree.  I still think it is the best, but I understand that there are tons of other chocolates as good as, and surely better.  This is also very true with oysters.  It’s a very competitive landscape.  Partnering with a good distributor(s) can help you successfully compete in a ever growing market.

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2 min read

Insurance:  Recordkeeping Matters

By Chip Terry on May 20, 2021 7:10:10 AM

Below is a nice description of the new ELAP insurance program from the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association. Farmers will be wise to heed their advice and keep good records.  

"Qualifying for any insurance program is going to require that you do a good job documenting your inventory - This makes a strong argument for investing in some software to manage your farm so you can show planting, harvest and background mortality rates. "

[Below is the email from ECSGA.  Please join them.  They do great work for the industry.]

The USDA Farm Service Agency has added farmed shellfish - (and other food fish and bait fish used to feed food fish) to the list of farmed crops eligible for the Emergency Livestock, Honey-Bees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). ELAP removes some of the challenging paperwork issues, raises some of the payment caps, and raises the payout ratio to 60% of your documented inventory loss for qualified losses. (90% for socially disadvantaged, limited resource, or beginning or veteran farmer or ranchers)  This is a far superior program to the FSA's Non-Insured Crop Disaster Program (NAP) - and the two programs can both be used to mitigate losses and provide indemnity from the same storm (ELAP also covers losses from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tidal surge, tornadoes and certain events not covered by NAP)

We would like to thank the National Aquaculture Association and especially members of the Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas Congressional delegations that responded to outreach by the Catfish Farmers of America, National Aquaculture Association, Texas Aquaculture Association, Redfish Farmers of America, Southern Illinois fish farmers, American Farm Bureau Federation, and Soy Aquaculture Alliance


Attached is a new ELAP fact sheet specific to these changes.  Note reporting requirements for application dates and for filing your crop acreage reports.  If I understand this correctly, it appears that access to the program is retroactive so if you had a significant loss in 2020 you might still be able to file a claim.

Industry leaders were invited to a webinar this morning to explain the program. We anticipate a webinar for growers to be announced shortly.

We would like to recognize and appreciate the responsive and thoughtful efforts of US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Deputy Under Secretary Gloria Montaño Greene, Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux and the FSA staff. 

Note: Qualifying for any insurance program is going to require that you do a good job documenting your inventory - This makes a strong argument for investing in some software to manage your farm so you can show planting, harvest and background mortality rates.  There are several products available our newsletter.


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2 min read

Oyster Tracker is now BlueTrace

By Cat Ganim on May 17, 2021 6:26:21 PM

Canva Design DAEevCzstXgFour years ago, we had the idea of helping oyster farmers improve their operations.  Today, we have over 120 clients in 12 states and 4 countries. We have employees, investors and even won a major grant from NOAA. All this would not be possible without the support of so many.  Thank you!  

As we have grown, we have learned a ton. A few things keep sticking out to us:

  1. Labor Costs: For most farms and dealers, this is the single biggest cost.
  2. Regulations Matter: The cost of regulatory compliance is significant.  The cost of not complying with regulations is huge.
  3. Oysters aren’t everything: Mussels, clams, scallops, geoducks...are all growing industries and have many of the same dynamics.

Over the last couple of years the Oyster Tracker name began reaching its limits. Although the bulk of our business is Oysters, we have a ton of other shellfish going through our platform. Our fastest growing solutions are all around Traceability. 

Why change the Oyster Tracker name? 

  1. We are broader than Oysters. Oysters were a great place to start and will always be our home, but time to leave the harbor.
  2. Clients are asking us to help comply with regulatory requirements that apply to all shellfish and will apply to other seafood.
  3. Our technology has broader applications.
  4. We have broader aspirations.

Why BlueTrace?

  1. Blue = Ocean.  We care deeply about the health of our oceans, the people who make a living on it and the seafood consumers.
  2. Trace:  Tracking seafood from the tideline to the table builds trust with consumers, meets important regulatory requirements, keeps consumers happy, and grows the entire market. 

What does this mean in practice? 

  1. Improving Products: Our products will do the same things they do today and we'll keep  making them better, we'll just stop using the name Oyster Tracker and we'll start using BlueTrace
  2. A new website (you are on it!) and our emails will be from
  3. Cool schwag, like hats, stickers, and t-shirts. Let us know if you want one.
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1 min read

Printers & Supply Chains

By Chip Terry on May 5, 2021 9:09:47 AM

Supply Chains are the lifeblood of our economy.  From how a shellfish gets from the tideline to the table, to how a semi-conductor chip gets from a factory in Asia to a printer on a farm.  

As many of you know, We have been dealing with printer issues for the last few months.  Turns out we have the same issue as the Ford F-150 factories.  A shortage of inexpensive semiconductor chips is holding us up.  Fortunately we haven't had to stop production, we just had to switch printers. 

For our tagging and distributor clients, we will be shipping new Zebra Printers instead of the TSC printers we have been doing so far.  The TSC printers are great, but we we just can't get any. The Zebra printers are just as good so and seem to have a better supply. We are now certified resellers of both TSC and Zebra printers, giving us resiliency in this time of supply chain disruptions.  As always, they come with a 2 year warranty.  

As part of the switch, our line up of printers now includes:

1) Mobile printers: Ideal for printing less than 150 tags per day especially in remote locations. TSC Alpha 3r and Zebra 521Q.  The benefits of the mobile is they run on batteries for 2 days and are pretty durable (certified for 5' drops).  The drawback is the paper is thinner than other tags.

2) Industrial Printers: Ideal for printing more than 150 tags per day The Zebra ZT411.  The industrial holds ~760 to 950 tags per roll and prints on a thicker paper.  

Both printers work directly from the phone via Bluetooth--no need for cables.  Both use thermal printing so there is no smudging or ink to worry about.  You can easily switch between the two printer types: for instance if you want to print some tags on the boat and others back in the plant.  


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2 min read

Tag Printing 101—Say Goodbye to Preprinted Tags

By Chip Terry on Apr 19, 2021 8:47:00 AM


Forget Pre-Printed Tags: How Oyster Tracker Can Help Your Shellfish Farm Transition Into The 21st Century

Shellfish farms using pre-printed tags do their best to stay within FDA compliance, but it's estimated that up to 20% of shellfish packages are mistagged due to errors with pre-printed labels. On-demand label printing can help increase accuracy — and make it less likely that you'll end up dealing with hefty fines from the FDA due to mislabeling problems

Let's take a look at some frequently asked questions surrounding the on-demand tagging process. 

Q: What equipment does a business need to use Oyster Tracker's on-demand system for printing tags? 

A: Printing tags is simple. The process can be completed from any iPhone to our durable mobile printer. You won't need to invest in any special equipment beyond what Oyster Tracker provides. 

Q: Is the mobile tag printing system expensive?

A: On average, shellfish companies save 30% compared to the cost of pre-printed labels. Our systems use direct thermal printing, eliminating the need for ink, saving you even more money. 

Q: What happens if the mobile printer breaks?

A: We know what life is like on a shellfish farm: things can get messy. Our mobile printer is designed to meet your needs and can withstand drops of up to five feet. In the rare event that your printer does break, we'll immediately send you a loaner while we replace or repair your printer. All printers are covered by a two-year warranty. 

Q: Does it take a long time to set up the app?

A: If you can use standard iPhone apps, you can use this too. Legal language necessary for shellfish tagging is pre-programmed, making it simple for your and your employees to tap and print. 

Ready to Take the Leap into On-Demand Tagging For Your Shellfish Business?

If you're ready to leave pre-printed tags behind, you're making a smart move. At Oyster Tracker, we understand the ins and outs of the shellfish farming industry, and our tagging app can help to make printing tags as simple as possible for your business. We can't wait to chat and learn more about how we can work with you to streamline your tagging process. 

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1 min read

Cape Cod Farmers and Wholesalers

By Chip Terry on Apr 16, 2021 8:40:32 AM

One of the great joys of this job is visiting our clients.  Last week I visited a bunch on Cape Cod and got a couple of fun videos

A few things jumped out:

1) A Great Summer is Coming.  House rentals are through the roof.  Supplies are plentiful.  The demand is there.

2) Professionalization:  Many of the farms/distributors are starting to scale up and become more professional.

3) Farm Tours: Many of the farms are increasing farm tours both to generate revenue and to build relationships with their clients. If you are inclined this way, I highly recommend it. 

Stay well.







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1 min read

Tell Your Story

By Chip Terry on Feb 2, 2021 10:01:11 AM

We continue to hear amazing stories from farmers.

  • The lobster men and women who have built great businesses growing amazing products. 
  • The Wall Street guy who found peace getting back to his roots. 
  • The ex-WNBA player who is out every morning at the crack of dawn tending her crop.
  • The young folks taking over the family business.

The list goes on and every farm has a great story to tell.  And consumers want to know:

  • Who grows my food?
  • Why are they doing it?
  • How do they do it?
  • What makes it so amazing? 

Telling your story moves you from that Buck-A-Shuck menu to the $3/shell menu.  

Many farmers have amazing websites, Instagram feeds, brochures, videos and the like. Using these tools is critically important for growing your business. We suggest starting small, but be sure to start.  Folks want to know your authentic story.  What makes you and your farm special? 

We just added another tool that should be helpful--and is really low maintenance: QR Codes on tags.

Every shellfish tag we print includes a QR code that links to more information about the product and the farm.  Now that chef, shucker, wait person, or end consumer can learn your story right on their phone.  

qrScanExample (1)marketing-1


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Virtual Tradeshow

By Chip Terry on Jan 15, 2021 4:54:18 PM

We did a virtual tradeshow with the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association.  Over 90 people showed up!!

Thank you to ECSGA and Bob Rheault for amazing work they have been doing in these trying times.  The show was great for us, but really the power of these organizations is the work they do behind the scenes to keep the industry humming. If you have the means, please join your state or regional organization.  

If you want to see our presentation, visit our YouTube channel.  Enjoy.  

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1 min read

Good News from our Clients

By Chip Terry on Jan 13, 2021 1:02:14 PM

The Aquaculture North America just published it's latest magazine, and our clients are in two separate articles:

1) Shellfish Growers Embrace New Technologies, by Lynn Fantom, profiles growers like Ted Cooney of Madhouse Oysters in Maryland

Cooney took the plunge from Excel spreadsheets to white boards to farm management software quickly, too. When Maine-based entrepreneur Chip Terry demonstrated how a new platform was “like a second brain” to manage tasks from cleaning to tumbling, Madhouse Oysters became one of the first customers of Oyster Tracker. The program also helped Cooney analyze productivity. “I can even look at it from home,” he adds. 

2) A sidebar article: New FDA Rule Triggers Issues on How To Tag and Trace tracks the looming regulatory changes and how Oyster Tracker can help folks stay compliant.  Including the following:

For their operation, Calm Cove Oyster Company, Duane Fagergren chose the digital system launched by Oyster Tracker last spring and already in use at 50 farms. He enters information on his iPhone, which is then stored in the Cloud. A small, weather-resistant portable printer lets him print out a tag with a QR code that “makes regulators happy with the chain of custody.” And if requirements change again, he isn’t stuck with outdated tags. Oyster Tracker will easily make the edit. Although Fagergren says “change is challenging,” he adds, “This has probably been the best business investment we made this year.”

Thanks to both Duane and Ted for doing amazing work and helping us continually improve our products.  

You can read the full articles at Aquaculture North America


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3 min read

Working with Distributors

By Chip Terry on Sep 25, 2020 3:06:40 PM

tagsAlmost every farm starts out selling to local restaurants, but as they scale distributors (aka wholesalers) play an increasingly important role. You will make more money per shell at a restaurant, but there is a limit to how much restaurants can buy. If you are producing more than a few local restaurants and some consumers can absorb, you are probably going to need to work with distributors.  We've been talking to a lot of distributors lately and here are some of the things farmers should know.

To start with, understand the different types of distributors 

Global full line distributors: The Syscos, US Food and others who sell everything to everyone. Unless you are huge they are unlikely to be your customer directly. 

National/regional seafood wholesalers Companies like Stavis, Inland Seafood and Samuel & Sons sell everything from swordfish and lobster to tuna and oysters. They do a lot of volume in shellfish, but it is a small part of their business. Many of them are quite interested in carrying a range of product, but they may not be near your farm.

Shellfish Specific players: There are folks in most major markets that focus on being great at shellfish.  Companies like Pangea, War Horse, and Hog Island know a ton about shellfish and are always looking for great product.  They love having boutique farms with a good story and often run the oyster program for restaurants in major metropolitan areas.

Local buyers: In almost every region there are folks who buy from local farmers/harvesters and then sell either to restaurants or other distributors.  Many of these folks are also farmers themselves and do this as a sideline. They can be the easiest to work with.  

So what should a farmer do?  

1) Find your potential buyers.  Unless you have a truck and a cooling system, you need to find someone who will either pick up at your farm or you can drop off at easily.  Take a look at the Interstate Shellfish Shipper's List. Any company that ships across state lines must be on this list.  If you are going further afield, you may need to work with a local reshipper who can get your product to the distributor.

2) Build a Few Relationships: Find a few distributors who serve different markets that you can work with for the long haul. Find the hole in their product line you can help fill (are you unique based on your location, cost, story?). Don't stretch yourself too thin. You need to invest in the relationships.  Don't get overly caught up in a few pennies more or less for the product.  Better to move a consistent amount every week.

2) Don't sell to their customers: When you have a distributor, be careful to not sell to their customers.  No one wants to be undercut by the farm at a key account.

3) Build a brand: Have a story that is unique and well told. Promise the consumer something unique: The taste of Maine.  A sweet Chesapeake oyster with an especially deep cup.  A pacific gem that has been tide tumbled. Easy to shuck oysters.

4) Be Reliable: Distributors and restaurants want consistent sellers. If your product is only intermittently available they can't build that following.

5)Have a clean consistent product: A product that shows up with clean shells and no dead animals. If something goes wrong fix it quickly.

6) Help them Help You: Many of the better distributors will want to bring chefs on tours, train staff and generally help position your product. Be available and helpful.  

Bottom Line:  Distributors play an important role and most farms work with them.  Treat them well and they will be your best allies.  

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2 min read

Shellfish Tagging: It Works

By Chip Terry on Sep 9, 2020 2:19:44 PM

We started thinking about shellfish tagging about a year ago. We were watching 


folks waste valuable time filling out harvester/dealer tags, log books, and generally dealing with tons of paperwork.  After talking to a lot of farmers, dealers, regulators and reading the 487 pages of the Model Ordinance, we finally launched our tagging solution in March of 2020--right as every farm shut down for Covid.  Despite the headwinds of a global pandemic, we had 41 new clients in less than 6 months.

So what have we learned? 

1) Paperwork Sucks: Regulations exist for good reasons, but complying withImage from iOS (39) regulations is painful. No one became a farmer because they wanted to do paperwork. 

2) Most states are a little different:  despite the Model Ordinance most states have slightly different regulations (or interpretations of regulations). For example, Washington state wants you to collect water or animal temperature at harvest.  Florida wants to know what type of cooling you have.  Others want bulk tags handled differently. 

3) Paper is painful:  We (I) thought finding waterproof paper would be the easy part.  Turns out getting it on the right size rolls with the right perforation and in the right orientation is a lot harder than expected.  We sent 100s of useless rolls back to the factory. 

DSC00094The future is becoming more obvious.  Now distributors can scan in the tag information--saving them time and money.  The QR codes lets us pass extended information that folks always want but doesn't fit on the tag (say tasting notes or a farmer 


profile).  We can also make farmer's lives easier by making it easier to do state filings and in the future printing invoices and other associated paperwork.  



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1 min read

NOAA Grant: Tide to Table Traceability and Marketing System

By Chip Terry on Jul 9, 2020 10:38:17 AM

We won (a grant)!  In a stroke of great luck and a testament to the awesome team at Oyster Tracker, we have been awarded a grant from National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

This federal grant is to prove the technical and commercial feasibility of an easy to use, and inexpensive system to track shellfish from farm to table to improve food safety and meet the growing demand from consumers to know more about the sources of their food.

As one of the reviewers noted: 

The commercial benefit of the proposed technology is abundantly clear. The current system is antiquated and accompanied by high costs associated with utilizing it. With the growth of the shellfish industry and the increasingly educated consumer base the technology offered by this project should be in high demand.

Over the next 6 months, Shellfish Solutions will work with companies in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Virginia to beta test a new solution that utilizes mobile phones, thermal printers, and cloud computing.  The ultimate goal is to build a system that

  1. Saves farms and distributors money/time
  2. Makes it easier for all market participants to comply with federal and state regulations
  3. Builds a traceability chain from the tideline to the table for all shellfish.  

This work build on the success of Oyster Tracker’s current products: Farm Manager and Tagging Systems.  DSC09956 If you are interested in learning more, please reach out.  


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1 min read

Don't Share your Data with a Competitor

By Chip Terry on May 14, 2020 1:05:33 PM

When you work with us, your data is your data and we don't share it with anyone.  You can read our privacy policy and terms of service on the bottom of this website.  

Many farm manager systems run their own farms and invest in other farms in the US, Canada and Australia.  That means if you work with them you are sharing your data with a competitor.  

We do not invest in farms and we do not own a farm.  In other words, we are not in a conflicted situation.  Our goal is to make you successful.  That is why we are growing so fast.

Bottom line:  Make sure you ask if the company or the principals are owners/investors in other farms and have a conflict.  Most do.  



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1 min read

Zooming and Filtering: The Latest on Oyster Tracker

By Cat Ganim on Apr 9, 2020 1:07:12 PM

Despite all the craziness, our team has been focused on what we can control: improving our Farm Management software. 
We released our latest version last week.  This release is all about helping folks navigate more easily through the farm.  For example, we now include a global view of your farm with counts of all animals.  Image from iOS (25)
You can also now filter your results to find just the size, year class, equipment, or virtually any other data point that you are looking for. 


Finally, during this Covid outbreak we are not charging any of our clients for two months and we are offering 2 month free trials to anyone who wants one. Please tell your friends. :-) 

Thanks for all your support.  

Cat Ganim
Product & Operations
Oyster Tracker

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1 min read

Welcome Kam

By Chip Terry on Apr 7, 2020 1:18:43 PM

After getting inquiries from over 30 people and interviewing 8 amazing folks, we hired our first sales leader--right as Covid shutdown the entire economy. 

Tough time to start, but Kam Kim is already a great addition to the team. He is smart, energetic, and will make sure we are well connected to the shellfish farms in the mid-Atlantic.  When this market rebound (and it will), he will be ready.  

Beyond getting a free trial, here is why you should meet Kam.

1) He managed one of Cherrystone's Farms on the eastern shore of Virginia--one of the largest farms on the east coast. From that experience, he has a deep appreciation of how successful farms run.  IMG_5123

2) He managed the farm at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences (VIMs) for the last 3 years. There he was a client of Oyster Tracker for over a year. VIMs taught him how broodstock, nursery, and hatchery programs work and the deep importance of the science behind all we do.  Oyster Tracker - IG.1

3) He was/will be again a bartender who loves to meet people and solve problems.


4) Most importantly, he is a natural born model and a great fisherman. 


You can reach Kam at

Please join us in congratulating him. 



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1 min read

Covid Crisis: Preparing for a better future

By Chip Terry on Mar 24, 2020 1:50:19 PM

Wow it is a crazy time.  I hope you and your families are well.  That is most important.

As I'm sure you know, Covid has been disastrous for shellfish farms. Restaurant sales have gone to zero and therefor almost all farm have no sales. Most farms are cutting expenses.

In response, we have given all our clients the next two months free. We always want to be a good partner with our clients and this is one small way we can do that.

We are also the eternal optimists and know that unlike some other industries/companies we are in a fortunate place.  Here are my data points.

1) You can meet demand when the market rebounds.  Oysters/clams/mussels can stay on the farm pretty much indefinitely. Once restaurants reopen farms will be able to meet demand. The optimistic scenario: 2 months of social distancing followed by a great summer.

2) We are building great solutions to real challenges:  We are well funded with a great team and clients in 10 states and 4 countries. Clients have been giving us strong directions. We are continually updating our farm management solution and our new tagging solution is coming soon. 

3) You can now try Oyster Tracker for free:  As you move into the busy season of planting new seed, splitting bags and generally getting the farm in shape we can help.  All farms will now automatically get a free two month trial. If it works for you and business bounces back great. If not, you can always export all your data to a spreadsheet. 

Bottom line:  Together we will come out of this stronger.  Please let us know what we can do to help you.  

The Oyster Tracker Team (Chip, Andy, Cat, Kam, Drew, and Rob)


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2 min read

Shellfish Regulations

By Chip Terry on Feb 10, 2020 11:00:20 AM

An estimated 35,000 Americans got sick from Vibrio parahaemolyticus transmitted by shellfish--an increase 54% from 2006 to 2017.

At first glance really bad news, but:

1) The CDC estimates the percentage of unreported illnesses and scales up based on the reported cases. Better reporting leads to worse results. If historically consumers reported only 10% of cases, but today they report 30% the estimated number of illnesses would be a 300% increase--without any actual increase in disease.

2) Even ignoring the reporting issue, the industry grew way more than 54% over the last 10 years. On a percentage basis, the incidence of disease must be lower.

In other words, the percentage of shellfish consumers getting sick has declined. But even one sickness or death is too many. We should always be looking for improvements. Headlines like the above lead to more stringent regulations and a greater burden on the industry that may only add cost and not improve outcomes.

Having spent some time exploring the 489 page Model Ordinance and seeing what happens on farms, dealers and restaurants, I wanted to share with you our experience. As with many others, I think our current system is fine, but beginning to creak under a growing demand. Most notably the reliance solely on a paper based often handwritten system for tracebacks.

The shellfish traceability system relies a paper trail that let's regulators traceback through the supply chain in the event of an illness. Here is the general overview of how this works (note there are a lot of subtleties that I'm ignoring here).

1) Harvest Your Shellfish


You made sure the state hasn't closed the water for any sort of harmful algal bloom (which seem to be increasing everywhere). You comply with any Vibrio regulations--which mostly relate to getting the product on ice/refrigerated within a specified time.

Image from iOS (39)

2) Fill out your harvest tags

Depending on the state, you have to do one tag for every bag and at least part of the tag is usually done by hand. If your area has a vibrio compliance plan, you must include extra data.

3) Complete your other paperwork

Harvest log, vibrio logs, shipping labels, invoices and the like. Make sure you also file your harvest reports with the state every month (or annually in some state)

4) Dealers take over


  temperatures, wet storage and and the like. All while trying to read your handwriting.


Dealers replace your tags with their own, create a receiving log, keep track of

Depending on the supply chain route, this can happen numerous times between the farm and the plate.

5) Eventually the Restaurant


They are required to store tags for 90 days in chronological order. This is a typical storage system. When someone gets sick, regulators start here.

The result:

The average traceback takes over 4 weeks and over 50% of tracebacks fail because at some point in the chain the records are incomplete or unreadable.

In other words, despite spending thousand of hours and millions of dollars on compliance, the system seldom has the intended result of preventing others from getting sick.

We are in the midst of developing a solution to help farmers. What would you like to see?


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1 min read

USDA Aquaculture Data: Tread Carefully

By Chip Terry on Jan 8, 2020 12:48:58 PM

The USDA just released a census of Aquaculture in the US.  As far as I can see, the data has some serious limitations--and it is not the fault of the USDA.  It was a voluntary survey and the results show that the majority of farms didn't return the surveys.  Here are a couple of highlights:

1) Alabama: USDA says there are 3 mollusk farms in Alabama.  Bill Walton of Auburn University count 22 farms.  I can list off 19 farms.  In other words, ~15% of the active farms Alabama are included.  

2) Maryland: USDA has 30 mollusk farms.  Matt Parker of Maryland Sea Grant counts over 100 leaseholders in Maryland. Roughly 30% of farms included.  In addition, there is one mystery farm in Maryland that sold over 23 million shellfish--more than the entire state reported in the previous year. 

3) Maine:   USDA has 42 mollusk farms. Maine Aquaculture Association counts over 190 farms. 22% of farms included.  

This by no means scientific, but my sample of three shows huge variations from reality (insert joke about Washington reality here).  

Although funny, it does matter.  Government support on issues like better crop insurance and disaster relief, support for research programs on better seed, policies on fair use of public waterways, and Jones Act exemptions all often hinge on the value of the industry.  If the government is significantly under counting the shellfish industry it really matter.  

Next time you get that survey?  Probably worth filling out. 



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2 min read

Oysters: Headed to Tulip Territory?

By Chip Terry on Dec 13, 2019 3:10:59 PM

In 17th century Holland Tulips were the first modern market panic.  Overnight tulip values dropped to almost nothing and scores of people went bankrupt.  The question I get regularly is: Are we in a oyster bubble?  Tulips and Oysters together

I have no way of predicting the future, but here are some of the relevant data points.  

1) Production is way up:  This is the most obvious sign that we are in a bubble.

  1. Production in Massachusetts is up 48% in the last 4 years.  
  2. Maine has 74 full shellfish leases and over 540 Limited Purpose or Experimental leases--and all these leases can sell product commercially
  3. Maryland went from 3,304 bushels in 2012 to 74,066 bushels of oysters in 2017
  4. Virginia has seen a 300% increase in production in 10 years
  5. North Carolina has 48 water column leases--up from 2 leases on 2011
  6. Florida has 200+ leases and just permitted 90 more
  7. Texas just started their aquaculture program
  8. Washington State: Always strong continues to add new farms and grow existing
  9. The Canadian government is really supporting the growth of the industry in the Maritime providence and British Columbia.
  10. Mexico has increasing production on the Baja peninsula. 

2) Wild harvests continue to decline.  Especially most recently in the Gulf of Mexico.

3) Prices vary by region and over time.  Reports by farmers seem to point to the Fall being the worst for the Northeast as many smaller farmers sell off crop they don't want to hold over the winter. Others in Louisiana and elsewhere are reporting that they can't keep up with demand. I regularly hear that prices for high-quality half-shell oyster range from a low of $.30 to a high of $70/pc on the wholesale market.  For folks selling directly to restaurants, the price is often between $.60 and $1/oyster.   

4) Wholesalers/Distributors are doing great:  A major distributor in the Northeast reported that their business has been up 20% y/y for the last 10 years and more than 40% this year.  Real Oyster Cult--a direct to consumer business--has seem their business rise by over 100% in the last year.

5) Restaurants continue to push oysters.  They are a profitable item and tend to be paired with drinks--the most profitable items for a restaurant.

6) Global restaurant trends still support oysters: 

Hyper-local food is a hot trend according to 60% of chefs.  

Sustainable Seafood is a top trend for proteins

7) Folks are not getting sick:  Despite the occasional click-bait article, the number of reported illnesses is down on a per-capita basis.  

8) We are nowhere near our historic consumption:  In the 1890s, ~30% of the protein for the working class came from shellfish--today it is probably well less than 1%

So what should the oyster farmer do?  

1) Be an efficient producer:  If we do hit a drop, being able to produce oyster cost effectively will make all the difference.

2) Build strong relationships with your buyers:  Be the folks that are easy to work with.  Deliver a high-quality product on time as promised.

3) Save for a rainy day: Whether it is a hurricane, ice storm, or dropping demand, something will happen make sure you have savings to tide your over.  

Topics: #OysterLife
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4 min read

Environmental Services: A New Revenue Opportunity for Oyster Farms

By Chip Terry on Oct 29, 2019 3:00:23 PM



Our waterways are stressed by excess nutrients--especially nitrogen and phosphate. Nitrogen and phosphate fertilizer fueled the "green revolution" that saw grain harvest double within 20 years.  This amazing revolution has fed millions and delivered beautiful green lawns to many.

However, roughly 50% of these nutrients run off into waterways. Numerous other nutrient sources like sewage, urban runoff and industrial sources add to the nutrient load.  Excess nutrients fuels algae blooms.  As the algae decays it sucks oxygen out of the water and we end up with dead waterways.  From Cape Cod  and the Chesapeake Bay, to Florida, and Puget Sound the results are not pretty. The EPA estimates 15,000 water bodies in the US are impacted.

What causes harmful algal blooms - Clean Water Action

Most waterways in the US now have EPA approved Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) that define how much pollution can safely be added to waterways. States and local communities then have Best Management Practices (BMPs) that allow them to figure out how to meet the TMDL goal. The solution could be building a new sewage treatment plant, putting limits on waterfront development, paying farmers to let fields lie fallow....and now paying oyster farmers to farm more oysters!

A BMP panel in the Chesapeake reviewed all the literature and concluded that oysters sequester nitrogen and phosphate and when harvested remove those nutrients from the water.  And in case you are wondering, most of that is in the shell or turned into a harmless gas--it is not like oysters are hoarding something that is bad for people. The team even came up with a formula for how much each oyster sequesters.  Every 500,000 3" oysters removes ~100lbs of nitrogen and 11lbs of phosphate from the water.

Now MD and VA have passed laws that will eventually pay oyster farms to grow more oysters. The mechanism is a "nutrient credit trading program."  For example if a new development is putting in lawns that will require lots of fertilizer, the developer can buy offsetting credits. For every pound of nutrient they will put in, they must buy 2 pounds of offsetting credits.

Regulators are working through the details of how to implement these laws.  For example: Do we pay for just increase or the entire harvest?  Diploid and Triploids sequester different amounts how do we account for that? How close to the development does the oyster farm need to be? Is this an annual cost or one-time? And most importantly how do we track this so it is easy to participate and not open to fraud?

Since the programs are not up yet, the actual value of a farmed oyster is unknown.  But there are some hints. Nitrogen value seems to be between $12/lb and $37/lb and Phosphate at $15,000/lb to $54,000/lb (turns out it is much harder to sequester phosphate).  Taking conservative values and halving them, we get to ~$.17/oyster.  If that holds up, farmers in VA and MD would be seeing an over 30% increase in revenue. 

The caveat:  The programs are not started yet.  There are a lot of unknowns.  Although the math works, $.17/oyster seems really optimistic. Don't start spending yet.  

For those who want more reading:

1) The Stockholm Resilience Center, an organization that examines the largest threats to natural life-support systems, considers our overuse of nitrogen a more extreme risk to life on Earth than climate change. 

2) Wikipedia has a good overview of the TMDL system

3) Here is the final report from the Oyster BMP program in the Chesepeake

4) Here is Maryland program.  As of this writing it is not ready for oyster farmers.


And here are some examples of why this is a problem. 

Florida puts 47.5 million gallons of partially treated human waste in the water daily.

Everyone knows Great Bay (NH) is in trouble. Polluted clam flats, a 90 percent loss of oyster beds, eelgrass gone or substantially gone in many areas, siltation, stormwater runoff and excessive nitrogen. 

The EPA reports that over 15,000 waterways in the US suffer from excess nutrients.

Puget Sound has had a number of harmful algae blooms. 

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1 min read

PCSGA: Understanding the West Coast Industry

By Chip Terry on Sep 30, 2019 9:57:00 AM

Just spent a week out in Portland OR at the 73rd! Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association.  Really interesting.  Here are some of my takeaways.

1) The industry on the West Coast is different.  The farms are larger.  They have been in business for much longer (often generations).  They farm mostly Pacific (Gigas) Oysters, Clams and Goeducks. 

2) Like on the East Coast, there are a lot of really smart people working on specific problems.  Ocean Acidification, Green Crab Invasions....

3) Like on the east coast, most farms are moving towards container culture.  In most cases, they are using Flip Bags. There is a lot less floating gear except up in British Columbia.

4) There have been some significant die offs and there isn't always an obvious cause. But there are a lot of smart people working on it.

5) The export market is a lot more important. A significant amount of product leaves for Asia every day.  Tariffs have not helped.  

6)You learn a lot more at the bar than in the sessions!








Topics: #PCSGA73
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2 min read

Long Island: Amazing

By Chip Terry on Sep 27, 2019 9:00:30 AM

Spent 4 days earlier this month visiting clients and prospects on Long Island.  Clearly this is a region on the rise.  The fresh water of the Atlantic flushes the Little and Great Peconic IMG_2972 (1)Bays creating ideal growing conditions. The communities are largely supportive. The farms can sell to great restaurants on Long Island or within a few hours they can have their product in NYC. No wonder the number of farmers and the size of the farms is growing.IMG_3017

The folks couldn't be nicer--The Burkes from Happy Oyster even put me up at their house for the night. Check out their hilarious YouTube channel.  

The farmers I met were often folks who had decided to move from desk jobs in NYC to become farmers. One had worked for tech startups. Another was an ex-art restorer. The Burke's had owned a bicycle shop. Others had left Wall Street. Some were multi-generation and still going strong.

The Long Island oyster thrived from before Europeans arrived until the early 20th century. But like many places, pollution and over-harvesting devastated the wild populations and much of the industry shut down. Today, new techniques, cleaner water, and new energy is bringing back this historic fishery. It is a good news story in a time when we need more uplifting media.  Thanks for all you do.



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1 min read

Oyster Tracker Grows Up

By Chip Terry on Sep 20, 2019 1:03:27 PM

Oyster Tracker recently hit two big milestones--we raised money and hired our first Chief Technical Officer full time.  Having clients in 10 different states and 3 countries has taught us a lot. We now know a lot more about what the industry needs, what we should build and how we should support you.  With talent and money, we can bring our solution to the next level.

Our CTO is Andy Kearney.  Andy has been working nights and weekends to build our current product.  He is a talented engineer who most recently led a large engineering team at VRBO (a division on Expedia).  We have worked together in the past and I know we are incredibly lucky to have such a talented leader.  Andy works closely with Cat Ganim and Drew Condon our leaders of user experience and product.  Together they make a really capable team that will continue to make our product easier to use and more valuable. 

The investors in our company are what is known in this world as "smart" money. They see a big opportunity to help you all be more successful, but they know we need more than just money. We need support. Our investors range from institutions like Maine Venture Fund and Branch Ventures, to individuals who have a passion for aquaculture.  Two of the investors are active oyster farmers. One is a former marine biologist another runs the largest organic food distributor in the Northeast. Two are active CEOs of mid-size companies. Many have deep experience globally and in other aquaculture ventures. In other words, it is a great range of folks who will give us superb support. 

Bottom line:  This will be great for our clients.  We will continue to improve the product, add new solutions and provide the support they deserve.  

Thank you for all you have done so far.  We are eager to continue working with you.

Chip, Andy, Cat, and Drew

Topics: #CTO
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2 min read

Oyster Tracker releases new version and grows customer base

By Chip Terry on Aug 27, 2019 6:06:00 PM

Excuse the brag, but every once is a while we like to take note of what we have accomplished. Here is our latest press release.

The only custom built platform for Shellfish Farmers, Oyster Tracker, has released a series of upgrades to make managing an oyster, mussel, clam, scallop or sea vegetable farm easier. The major upgrades include

  • Self-Service: Farms can now be configured and changed by the farmers.
  • Improved Data Entry: Different types of farming and husbandry techniques are tracked quickly and easily--generally in less than 10 minutes per day.
  • New Data Structure: To both improve performance and the insights from data.
  • Better Reporting: On everything from current inventory and last week’s activities, to the growth rates of different seed classes.

Farmers have been embracing this improved platform in increasing numbers. From farmers like  Peeko in New York and Saltwater Farms in Rhode Island to Nonesuch in Maine. Here is what they have to say about the new Oyster Tracker.

“We were looking for a system that could help keep the chaos under control. So far Oyster Tracker has been great for our business” Toni-Jo Birk, The Happy Oyster Company

“Having worked with Oyster Tracker for over a year, it is great to see them continually improving the solution. They have made a number of updates we asked for. Our time spent generating reports for our insurance company have been dramatically reduced.” Adam Silkes, American Mussel Harvesters

According to Cat Ganim, product lead for Oyster Tracker: “The key to any successful business is listening to your clients and understanding how to make their lives easier and more successful. We have visited over 60 farms in the last year and really understand the challenges that this industry faces as it scales. We have a long list of plans to help the farmers be more successful. These latest releases are just the start.“


Real time inventory--that is easily exportable


Easy to use log book--with pictures!


Setting up a farm has never been easier.

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3 min read

Insurance, Really?

By Chip Terry on Jul 27, 2019 6:07:00 PM

This is the most boring post ever, but potentially the most important.  Imagine this scenario: 

You’ve invested years of your life and your entire life savings starting the best farm ever.  You bought a million seed and you are a week away from harvest. Boom! A tornado/hurricane/nor-easter/ice-storm takes out your farm. 

What happens? You have no insurance:  Call your mom and see if she has an extra bedroom.  It is going to be a long road.


Ice destroying a farm in the Northeast.

You have catastrophic coverage for weather-related losses from the Farm Service Agency (known as "NAP" or Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program) and your original seed receipts. Better. You would likely get $16,380.  If you are in Massachusetts here is the calculation the adjuster will make (each state is different).

  1. By the end of year one you would have lost 70%.
  2. In year two you would lose another 60%
  3. Hence at the end of year 2, they assume you have 120,000 oysters ready for sale.
  4. At $.51/oyster (the established market rate for Mass) that is worth $61,200--but unless you have paid for an upgraded plan, they only pay 55% of the market price $33,660
  5. They would then pay 50% of the value: $16,380

You have Catastrophic insurance from NAP and a verifiable inventory from the day before the catastrophic event that shows you have 600,000 market size oysters. Now you are in better shape. Instead of taking conservative averages, the adjuster can take your inventory and use it as the baseline.  You have $306,000 of crop value. Using the same calculations above, they pay out 50% of the value at 55% of the established market price: $84,120.

Bottom line: 

Basic coverage is cheap: Basic NAP coverage costs $325/year--and it is free if you have been farming for less than 10 years. And they do have better coverage--like paying out at market price instead of 55% of market price. Ask your county FSA office for details.

Inventory Records are critical: You need a reliable, verifiable, and contemporaneous account of your inventory.  What each adjuster will accept is a bit different, but a key is to have no large gaps in the records.  If you show up and say “I counted all my bags yesterday and here is what I have” and you don’t have records of doing that each month for the last 12 months you are probably going to be out of luck.  


Hurricane Michael taking out farms on the Gulf Coast

If you have a record in  your notebook of all your activities for the last year with quantities of equipment and stocking density you are going to be in much better shape.  If you dropped that book overboard and it got wiped out? Good luck. Of course, this is self-serving, but if you have a cloud based record of all your inventory and activities for the last 2 years, push a button and send it off.  You will be back in business in no time.

Here is the recommendation from the ECSGA newsletter:

If you are not keeping meticulous records now you should start. ....This is probably a good time to invest in one of those nifty new inventory management software programs.

You are still better off with no disaster, but these insurance programs will help you get back on your feet.  As you get bigger and more sophisticated you can and should look at other options. NAP and good inventory records are a great place to start.  Hopefully you will never have to use it.  

Your to-do's  

  1. Call your local FSA office and sign up for NAP by Sept 1st
  2. Keep inventory records (Call us if you want help).
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Scallops Do Have Eyes

By Chip Terry on May 14, 2019 6:07:00 PM

OK. So I published fake news. In our last newsletter, I used a reddit post:

It’s super weird that clams, oysters, mussels and scallops don’t have eyes, but not as weird as it would be if they did have eyes.


Turns out scallops are super weird. They have up to 200 eyes. Here are the details.

And in case you are wondering, clams and oysters have light sensing organs.

I stand corrected. It is also amazing that I got that feedback from 4 people within 30 minutes of sending the newsletter. Thanks for reading.

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1 min read

Oysters can save $9 billion on Healthcare

By Chip Terry on May 13, 2019 6:08:00 PM

Roughly 41 million Americans took an antidepressant last month. What if eating oysters could reduce that number?

Studies have shown that the vitamin B12 in oysters can reduce brain shrinkage!! And the omega-3 fatty acids that oysters have in abundance can reduce suicide and depression. At least one psychiatrist is "prescribing oysters to his patients....He says the results prove what we eat could be another tool in improving mental health."

If each American who had depression was prescribed a dozen oysters per week. That would be 24.6 billion oysters! Or a wholesale value of over $12 billion. And even if it only worked 10% of the time, that would be a savings of over $9 billion annually.

And for our farmers to meet that 24.6 billion oysters? They would have to increase production 24 fold.

Bottom line: Eat oysters. Live happy. Save money. Grow a lot more oysters.


Instead of medication, this psychiatrist is prescribing oysters to his patients (April, 2019)

13% of Americans Take Antidepressants (CDC/Time Magazine)

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