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SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — The Ocean State is welcoming a new high-tech shellfish hatchery and research facility in Wakefield, right across the street from Matunuck Oyster Bar.

Officials said the three-floor, 4,118 square-foot facility will be used to increase oyster production and economic opportunity in Rhode Island.

In addition to oysters, the hatchery is expected to cultivate bay scallops, sea urchins, and different types of seaweed.

The hatchery was created by a partnership between the University of Rhode Island and Matunuck Oyster Farm.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed was on hand at Tuesday’s ceremony and spoke about the importance of the aquaculture industry.

“Oyster farming is great,” Reed said. “In 2002, we thought there was potential here. Now, it’s a major industry in Rhode Island.”

“It’s going to get better with this hatchery,” he continued. “We’re going to be the scientific leaders. It’s good for jobs. It’s good for the economy. It tastes good too.”

The facility will cost around $2.4 million and construction is expected to finish by the end of the year.

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