Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2020-08



The role of ecosystem services in the decision to grow oysters: A Maryland case study




Michaelis, AK; Walton, WC; Webster, DW; Shaffer, LJ






Ecosystem services provided by oysters are regularly cited to gain support for the continued development of oyster aquaculture, but we have limited understanding of whether and how these benefits influence those who grow oysters. Participant observation and semi-structured interviews occurred with 57 oyster growers in Maryland (United States) to detail factors motivating entry into the oyster aquaculture industry. Results, framed under a lens of ecosystem services, indicate that cultural services are more likely to motivate aquaculture participation than provisioning, regulating or supporting services. This study emphasizes the significance of cultural ecosystem services and defines the need to better understand those provided by oysters and other farmed shellfish. A more complete description of the ecosystem services provided through shellfish aquaculture could serve to enhance support of farmed shellfisheries. In addition, this participatory approach highlights challenges within the ecosystem services framework regarding linked services and their complexity.

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