Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Plant and Environmental Science

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Juan Carlos Melgar

Committee Member

Dr. Marzieh Motallebi

Committee Member

Dr. Michael Vassalos


Market demand for seafood products among South Carolina (SC) consumers has led to increased aquaculture production as a means of supporting the seafood supply chain across the state. Our objective is broken into four distinct parts; (1) understanding consumer’s preferences and perceptions of seafood, (2) calculating their willingness to pay (WTP) for seafood products available in SC using attributes of sustainability and locality; and (3) gathering production metric and anecdotal data from SC oyster growers. Previous research assessing the market channels of seafood in South Carolina is compared to survey results. Respondents indicated that taste and quality were the most important factors considered when purchasing seafood, while production method, wild-caught or farm-raised, was the least important attribute. Using a discrete choice experiment (CE), two shellfish products available in South Carolina, oysters, and shrimp are used to measure consumers’ willingness to pay for these products based on labels describing the source of origin and ecolabels relating to sustainability. Our results show that South Carolina consumers are willing to pay more for local, sustainably wild-caught clams, and shrimp, and more for local, sustainably farm-raised oysters. Lastly, interviews with SC oyster growers were conducted to understand the scale of these operations based on production metrics. This information was then utilized to assess whether implementation of an ecolabel for oyster growers to certify their production process to be sustainable.



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