Ensuring a Shellfish Future
Fishermen’s Alliance leads group to purchase one of the country’s most important shellfish hatcheries, the Aquacultural Research Corporation.
Cape Cod’s coastal economy relies on shellfish for recreational and commercial shellfishing and the tourism and seafood industries. On Cape Cod, commercial shellfish aquaculture is valued at $12.5 million annually. Demand for oysters and clams is growing, and oyster production has doubled on the East Coast in the past five years due to consumer demand for the briny bivalves.
The Aquacultural Research Corporation in Dennis is one of the country’s most important shellfish hatcheries and the only commercial hatchery in Massachusetts, supplying nearly 80 percent of the shellfish seed used in the state. Its owners approached the Fishermen’s Alliance for ideas on how to make sure the business thrived into the future. Given the economic potential of the hatchery and the importance of shellfish to the Cape’s fishing industry, the Fishermen’s Alliance led efforts to create a partnership to purchase it.
“We are an organization run by and for fishermen,” said Fishermen’s Alliance CEO John Pappalardo. “Shellfishermen are as integral a component to the blue economy of Cape Cod as offshore fishermen are, and we saw this as a way to expand our work and make sure that there will be abundant shellfishing here for future generations.”
The organization brought investors such as Wellfleet Shellfish Promotion and Tasting, producer of the Wellfleet OysterFest, and a consortium of Cape Cod families who understood the important role shellfish play in the local economy and environment to the table. This investor group contributed more than $1.5M, which was coupled with construction loans of $1.5M from Cape Cod 5, the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod and the Property and Casualty Initiative of Boston to complete the $3M hatchery deal.
The facility will be replaced with a world class hatchery, which will be able to meet current and expanding seed demand in time for the 2016 season. The reinvigorated business will enhance aquaculture operations, increase high quality shellfish seed production, and ensure a thriving future for Cape Cod’s wild commercial shellfish industry, as well as recreational shellfisheries and more than 2,000 local shellfish farmers.
Beyond the economy, the hatchery provides a healthy food source and a tangible way to improve water quality through the “spat on shell” efforts of oyster reef building that are a part of the business plan. This partnership will ensure that Cape Cod has a world class hatchery to serve the shellfish industry near and far for generations to come.
Read these news articles for more information:
Gotbaum, Rachel. WBUR. "The Aging Oyster and Clam Hatchery that's behind a Multimillion-Dollar Industry," September 7, 2015.
Miller, Edward. Provincetown Banner. "Purchase of Hatchery will help secure future of Cape's shellfishing," September 1, 2015.
Pollock, Alan. The Cape Cod Chronicle. "Unique Partnership Seeks to Protect Future of ARC Shellfish Hatchery," August 27, 2015.
CapeCod.com Newscenter (Cape Cod Broadcasting). “Group of Local Nonprofits and Investors Purchase ARC Hatchery,” August 19, 2015 and also aired top of the hour news brief on 4 stations
Legere, Christine. Cape Cod Times. “Longtime Dennis hatchery under new ownership,” August 19, 2015. Rob Doane, John Pappalardo, Michele Insley, Dan Wolf, Jonathan Fleming quoted.
Russell, Caitlin. The (Dennis) Register. “ARC changes hands after public/private purchase,” August 17, 2015.