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Oyster Planning Tool

Full Title: SPAT: Shellfish Portfolio Assessment Tool

This project designed, tested, and applied a decision support tool to assist resource managers and oyster farmers in optimizing oyster resources in the State of Mississippi.

The Team: Daniel R. Petrolia (Lead Investigator, Mississippi State University,, Ardian Harri (Mississippi State University), William C. Walton (Auburn University), Just Cebrian (Dauphin Island Sea Lab), and Jason Rider (Mississippi Department of Marine Resources)

Technical Monitor: Becky Allee (

Federal Program Officer/Point of Contact: Frank Parker (

This project began in June 2017 and will end in May 2021.

Award Amount: $590,143

Why it matters: The State of Mississippi has established an ambitious goal to produce one million sacks of oysters per year and to increase the ecological and economic benefits to the state from healthy and productive natural oyster reefs and farms. This project draws on knowledge from economics, ecology, marine extension, and resource management to design, test, and put into use a decision support tool to optimize the restoration and use of oyster resources in Mississippi.

What the team is doing: The team began by determining the type and extent of benefits delivered by three distinct oyster cultivation practices – restored oyster reefs, traditional shell plantings, and off-bottom oyster farms – and assigned a monetary value to both their market and non-market benefits. They then developed budgets of construction and maintenance costs for restored reefs, plantings, and farms. Finally, the team worked in conjunction with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources to develop and test a decision support tool that directs the user through multiple criteria to select the portfolio of oyster cultivation practices that minimizes downside risk while maximizing benefits.

Expected Outcome: This approach recognized that oysters provide a number of ecological and economic benefits and decisions about their management are most informed when the entire suite of benefits is considered. This project provided oyster restoration practitioners, resource managers, and farmers with a tool to minimize the downside risk and maximize the benefits from oyster restoration, planting, and farming. This project demonstrated how combining an economic approach with ecological knowledge can lead to more informed management decisions.

From the seminar “Thinking About Oyster Resources as a Portfolio of Ecosystem Services” 
Presenter: Dr. Dan Petrolia, Mississippi State University