To qualify for the Commonwealth Quality Program, aquaculture operations must meet a set of fixed criteria, as well as score a minimum of points within the scored criteria sections. Click here to get certified today

Fixed Criteria

All CQP aquaculture producers must have valid permits that follow local as well as Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (MA DMF) and the Army Corps of Engineers regulations. Furthermore, all CQP qualifying shellfish species must be native to MA waters and must not be genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). In addition, the use of antibiotics, pesticides, hormones and growth stimulants are prohibited to protect the consumer and the environment.

Quality of Farming Praticies

Farming practices include the use and source of seed, the management and prevention of diseases, predator and fouling control, gear maintenance and stocking densities. The highest scoring CQP farms will ensure that their seed is MA DMF approved with easily identifiable characteristics (i.e. disease resistance). Furthermore, highest scoring farms should have disease monitoring, testing, and communication plans in place to maintain best practices and a sustainable supply of healthy shellfish.

Quality of Community Relations

Qualifying aquaculture sites maintain positive relationships with neighboring communities, as well as with adjacent growers. This involves noise reduction, access requirements, and respecting other local interests. Furthermore, CQP regulations encourage aquaculturists to purchase their gear in Massachusetts to support our Commonwealth’s economy.

Quality of Environmental Practices

CQP growers are aware that aquaculture gear may attract other wildlife and manage gear to avoid harming other species that may encounter their operations. This involves providing and maintaining buffer zones or corridors to allow safe passage of wildlife, as well as releasing any animals that may be in the gear when it is maintained. In addition, CQP regulations require the maintenance of safety equipment to protect both the producers, the operation, and the natural environment.

Quality of Food Saftey

All CQP producers are encouraged to produce and follow Standard Operating Procedures related to seafood health and safety. CQP products should be tagged prior to landing with required harvester tag information that includes all important information including the time of harvest (or tidal exposure). To further ensure food safety, the highest scoring growers monitor and record air and water temperature at or near the farm site. In addition, a system for starting the temperature reduction process immediately following harvest at the farm above and beyond the local requirements will also ensure a quality product and a high scoring farm.