BlueTrace Blog

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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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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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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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.  


File (2)

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

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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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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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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