Registration deadline nears for Alabama oyster farming course

By: Bill Walton and Melissa Schneider / Published: Apr 12,  2018

Auburn University is now enrolling students for Oyster Farming Fundamentals, a non-credit, adult continuing education, summer course that teaches potential and current commercial oyster farmers the basics of off-bottom oyster aquaculture. 

The 15-hour course provides oyster farmers in Alabama a foundation of knowledge to start and/or improve their commercial oyster farming operations. Bill Walton, an Auburn University associate professor and an Extension specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, and Rusty Grice, an oyster aquaculture business specialist with Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and Auburn University’s School of Fisheries, Aquaculture & Aquatic Sciences, will lead the class.

Bill Walton, left, teaches the fundamentals of oyster farming to a group. Photo by Rosa Zirlott/Murder Point Oyster Co.
Bill Walton, left, teaches the fundamentals of oyster farming to a group. Photo by Rosa Zirlott/Murder Point Oyster Co.

Topics will include oyster biology, hatchery basics, nursery options, seed handling, farm site selection, overview of off-bottom culture gear, methods to control fouling, splitting and grading, business planning, risk management, permitting, public health considerations and marketing.
The course will be held at Auburn University’s Shellfish Laboratory on Dauphin Island in five 3-hour meetings on Sunday afternoons from 1-4 p.m. on June 10, June 24, July 8, July 22, and from 9 a.m. to noon on August 18. Applications, including a $25 application fee, are due by 4 p.m. Thursday, April 19, to Rusty Grice (251-229-0826, 118 N. Royal St., Suite 800, Mobile, AL 36602 or The cost of the course is $275.

All participants will be required to develop a basic business plan, provide a formal evaluation of the program, document any oyster production in the training program, follow best management practices at the training site, and return any loaned gear in clean, working order to the shellfish lab.
Enrollment is limited to 15 participants. First priority will go to applicants in the Alabama commercial seafood industry, demonstrated by holding commercial seafood licenses (harvester, processor, etc.) for at least 3 of the last 5 years. Second priority will go to residents of Mobile County. Others may apply.

Due to space limitations, only the first 10 participants will have the option of receiving 15,000 oyster seed to gain hands-on experience with oyster culture. They will also have the opportunity to use a 100-yard run of oyster farming gear within the Grand Bay Oyster Park through the end of March 2019. In addition, there will be five additional plots in Alma Bryant’s Grand Bay Oyster Park available to eligible participants who satisfactorily complete the course. Priority will be based on a drawing.

Oyster farmers tend to their oysters in Alabama.
Oyster farmers tend to their oysters in Alabama.

For more information, go to or contact Rusty Grice at 251-229-0826 or

The registration deadline for an Oyster Farming Fundamentals course in Mississippi has passed.


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