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Harte Research Institute at TAMU-CC launches free oyster farming training program

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Posted at 7:21 PM, Jul 03, 2024

CORPUS CHRISTI, Tx — Interest in oyster farming is on the rise after Texas became the last coastal state in the United States to allow it. Educators at the Harte Research Institute (HRI) at TAMU-CC are hoping to help jump-start the industry with its free oyster farming training program.

Ellis Chapman, the Project Manager of the Oyster Resource and Recovery Center at the HRI, said there is a need for skilled labor in the new industry.

"We were the last state in the coastline to start it. And basically, with the start of a new industry, the first thing that any industry needs is labor and a skilled workforce," Chapman said.

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The one-of-a-kind program will teach students about oyster farming with three different courses.

"We’ve created an online training program for people who want to become farmers, people who want to learn more about the hatchery, and people who want to start their own business. A business planning model," Chapman said.

The project manager said students will have the opportunity to work with local oyster farmers.

"We’re using these three courses to help train people, and we’re going to incorporate that with hands-on internship experience that we’re working with an entire industry on," Chapman said.

One of the local industry leaders, Blackjack Point Oyster Company, owned by AJ Minns, was the 4th permitted oyster farm in Texas back in April of 2023.

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Today, the number of permitted Texas oyster farmers or farmers in the process of getting a permit has shot up to 20. Minns said this will open the door for job opportunities right here in Coastal Bend.

"There are 20 farms that are permitted or in the conditional permit phase. Right now, we have three employees, one of those being an intern. So you can quickly see how the job growth is going to expand throughout the Coastal Bend and in Texas," Minns said.

The program is active now. In the next few months, university leaders plan to roll out the program in Spanish.

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