Hoopers Island Oyster Aquaculture Company: salting system for oyster aquaculture

Hoopers Island

Business Description:

Hoopers Island Oyster Aquaculture Company was created to produce and market high-quality, half-shell oysters and the equipment needed to support the aquaculture industry in Dorchester County and the State of Maryland.

The company has successfully built equipment and designed a system that will easily transition the traditional methods of Maryland watermen into a cutting-edge industry. This industry will be one of the first steps forward in meeting society’s demands for sustainability and transparency in seafood production.


Hoopers sought to develop a wet storage system for oysters to achieve salinity consistency and remove coliform bacteria. The challenge is to simulate and control the salinity of Chesapeake oysters for the half-shell market. This has long been done by watermen by transporting mid-Bay oysters to the much saltier waters of the barrier island bays below Ocean City and Assateague Island. After living in these waters for a few days, the oysters are significantly saltier and preferred by the restaurant market. The MIPS project for a land-based wet storage and salinity system will make this practice obsolete and provide far more control over the oyster taste.

Hoopers Island 2

MIPS Role:

While this project is in progress, UMD researchers are currently working with Hoopers to develop a wet storage system.

Interesting Fact:

Hoopers Island is in the heart of Chesapeake seafood country and is still home to the first Phillips Seafood processing plant, which was the beginning of the famous Phillips Crab House and seafood empire in Maryland. Steve Phillips, President and CEO of Phillips Seafood, has personally endorsed Hoopers Island Oyster Aquaculture Co. and has committed to being one of the first customers for this new process.

MIPS-Related Quote:

“The opportunity provided by MIPS will fast-forward our business by advancing our oyster aquaculture technology. The after effects of this research made possible by MIPS will be an asset in the Chesapeake Bay for years to come.”

— Ricky Fitzhugh, President, Hoopers

Hoopers Island 3

Project Manager:  Johnny Shockley;  Principal InvestigatorDavid Tilley, UMD
Location:  Fishing Creek, Maryland – Dorchester County;  Project Start Date:  8/1/2012

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