Mattapoisett oyster farm to expand, may pay fees in shellfish

Feb 28, 2023

MATTAPOISETT — Blue Stream Shellfish’s oyster operation in Mattapoisett is about to get a little bit bigger. 

During a meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 28, the Mattapoisett Select Board voted unanimously to award the aquaculture company with an additional 20 acres of local waters in which to cultivate oysters. 

This is the final step of a phased plan making use of the southern half of the former Taylor Seafood aquaculture farm in Nasketucket Bay.  

Dale Leavitt, who works with Blue Stream Shellfish, started with a 10-acre plot in 2020. That first year, he focused on collecting data to measure what he can yield from the site. Leavitt added one 20 acre plot in 2021 and now has a 50-acre total for the new aquaculture site.

Now, with 50 acres of usable area, Blue Stream needs to pay the town $200 per acre annually. However, Leavitt said, a conversation with Mattapoisett Harbormaster Jamie McIntosh revealed that the payment could be made in oysters. 

“We would augment that [payment] with some dollar amount of oysters based on fair market value,” said Leavitt, noting that he could supply any size oyster that the town needs. 

According to Mattapoisett Select Board Chair Tyler Macallister, potential oyster payments could be used to seed oyster flats in the area. Mattapoisett Select Board member Jordan Collyer said that the town is currently paying for oyster seed, baby oysters that are spread in suitable areas to eventually mature into full-grown oysters. 

“Oysters are also great to clean water,” said Macallister. “Putting them into Eel Pond … would help make the water quality of the harbor better.”

No vote was made on whether to accept oysters as payment, Leavitt hopes to “get something formalized” with the Select Board this summer.

According to Leavitt, Blue Stream Shellfish harvested about 300,000 oysters last year at the Mattapoisett site, but that harvest didn’t come without some loss. 

“Little oysters don’t do well out there,” he said.

He noticed last year that oyster drills, small predatory snails that drill through oyster shells, were affecting the crop of shellfish.

“Nasty little creatures,” he said of the snails.