Monday, January 5, 2009

Profile - Oyster Farming

An Ancient Industry
Oyster farming was first practiced by the ancient Romans in Great Britain, likely developed in tandem with pearl farming. It is an important component of the seafood industry in many countries, including France, Canada, Japan, and the United States. Commonly farmed varieties include the Eastern, Pacific, Belon, Sydney rock, and Southern mud oyster.

Oysters grow in intertidal and subtidal areas. Though they will sometimes attach to a soft bottom, they prefer hard and rocky shores. They have two highly asymmetrical yellow or off-white valves (shells), which are usually quite rough and sharp. All oysters are "born" male, and miraculously become female after a year.

Three main methods are used for cultivating oysters.
  1. Natural Beds - Seed oysters are scattered over an existing bed and left to mature.
  2. Racks, Bags or Cages - Oysters are seeded in one of the aforementioned receptacles, suspended above the bottom, which can then be raised to allow for harvesting.
  3. A Tank - Oysters are grown in an artificial maturation tank. The temperature and salinity can be altered for optimal growth, and calcite and aragonite can be added to help the shells develop faster. This method is the most expensive, but most effectively protects the oysters from predators and poachers.

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