Date of Award
© 2021 Cristina Sandolo
Professional Science Master's (PSM) In Ocean Food Systems
Adam St. Gelais
The mid-Atlantic region is experiencing a resurgence of oyster production, through both wild harvest and, more recently, aquaculture. While a historic, wild catch oyster fishery drove economic development of the region, the modern-day oyster industry is less intensive, more heavily managed, and is growing due to a growing aquaculture industry. While many Black watermen played critical roles in developing the historic wild-caught industry, barriers to advancement within the industry and to wealth accumulation in general prevented many from experiencing the full array of compensation, benefits, and legacy that the booming industry could have provided. Now, the modern-day oyster aquaculture industries in MD, DE, and NJ lack racial diversity at the business ownership level. This research analyzes barriers to entry into the aquaculture industries of MD, DE, and NJ, the history of Black oystermen, and Food Justice, to determine if Food Justice themes could be adopted by industry managers to promote socioeconomic diversity within the industry, specifically at the business ownership level. Results indicate that Food Justice principles, along with the use of antiracism or equity frameworks, can guide industry managers towards diversifying the industry at the business ownership level and promoting justice and equity within the industry. This study identified 8 major barriers to entry within the aquaculture industries of MD, DE, and NJ; the elimination of these barriers through a framework of 5 main Food Justice themes, could pivot the industries towards increased interest among a more diverse population of entrepreneurs, and increased interest in oysters among a more diverse population of consumers. Moving in this direction could create economic opportunities, alleviate nutrition insecurity among consumers, and increase environmental restoration efforts in coastal areas.
Sandolo, Cristina. 2021. Adopting Principles of Food Justice for Equitable Oyster Aquaculture Industry Development. Graduate Program in Ocean Foods Systems, University of New England, Maine, USA.