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A Brief History of Oyster Aquaculture in Rhode Island
Aquaculture in Rhode Island: Annual Report 2006 (2006)
  • Michael A Rice
The history of the development of oyster aquaculture is reviewed, beginning with pre-colonial shellfishing by the Native American Narragansetts and Wampanoags of Narragansett Bay. Leasing of estuarine waters for aquaculture of oysters began with legislation by the Rhode Island General Assembly before the turn of the 19th Century. Legal developments during the 19th Century led to the expansion of oyster aquaculture to the point that about 21,000 acres of Rhode Island's estuarine and coastal waters were leased for oyster farming by 1910. Industrialization, sewage pollution, siltation, the Hurricane of 1938 and socio-political changes in the 1920s and 1930s led to the decline of the industry and the closing of the last oyster farm in 1954. A renaissance in shellfish farming began in the late 1970s and has been growing ever since. (
  • Oyster farming,
  • Shellfish aquaculture,
  • Rhode Island History
Publication Date
December, 2006
David A. Alves
Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council
Citation Information
Michael A Rice. "A Brief History of Oyster Aquaculture in Rhode Island" Wakefield, Rhode IslandAquaculture in Rhode Island: Annual Report 2006 Vol. 2006 (2006) p. 24 - 38
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Creative Commons License
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons CC_BY-SA International License.