Matunuck Oyster Farm’s Perry Raso is one of five finalists for the first annual New England Leopold Conservation Award, for business owners who inspire others with their dedication to ethical land, water and wildlife habitat management.
This is the first year the $10,000 award will be presented. It will be awarded during The Eastern States Exposition (The Big E) in September in West Springfield, Massachusetts.
Raso is one of the new breed of oyster farmers who study the science of the sea. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Rhode Island in aquaculture and fisheries technology.
But there is no substitute for getting your hands dirty. Raso founded Matunuck Oyster Farm in 2002 on a seven-acre commercial aquaculture lease, on Potter Pond in East Matunuck, and opened his shellfish hatchery there.
He was nominated for the conservation award for educating others on the environmental benefits of shellfish aquaculture: Oysters remove nitrogen-containing particles from water, which increases the oxygen available for other living things.