Date of Award



© 2021 Cristina Sandolo

Document Type


Degree Name

Professional Science Master's (PSM) In Ocean Food Systems


Marine Science

First Advisor

Adam St. Gelais

Second Advisor

Barry Costa-Pierce

Third Advisor

Zachery Miller-Hope

Fourth Advisor

Shannon Hood

Fifth Advisor

Ed Hale


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.


Professional Science Masters Thesis

Advisors St. Gelais, Costa-Pierce, and Miller-Hope are UNE faculty members; advisor Hood is with MD Sea Grant; advisor Hale is with DE Sea Grant, University of Delaware.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."