Farming oysters and other filter-feeding bivalve shellfish
benefits the environment.
Oysters improve water quality by filtering phytoplankton
(algae), which reduces excess nutrients, making the water
more transparent. This helps bottom plants, on which many
other organisms depend, to thrive.
Farmed oysters also reduce fishing pressure on and (if they
spawn) help to restock local wild populations, and provide
habitat for many other organisms.
Few other farmed products can make such a claim. The
leading independent guides and certification programs for
responsible seafood, including the Monterey Bay
Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and the Aquarium of the
Pacific’s Sustainable Seafood Forum, and environmental
nonprofits such as The Nature Conservancy and the
Environmental Defense Fund, give culturing oysters in
floating bags or on bottom racks — our practices — their
Because wild shellfish stocks have declined in so many
areas, large numbers of commercial fishermen can no
longer support themselves with shellfish harvesting. They
have had to find income from totally unrelated
Small-scale shellfish aquaculture can provide marine-based
livelihoods for these watermen, preserving a lifestyle and
trade crucial to maintaining the integrity of Chincoteague
and other seaside towns.
Our operation has involved local Chincoteague watermen
from the start and has provided full-time employment for
two of them
It’s a Win-Win Situation
"Oyster farming is one of the few situations in which
both economics and the environment win: any body of
water that can support a vibrant oyster industry will almost
certainly be cleaner and more vital than one that cannot.
Farmed salmon may turn flabby, bland and, without the
addition of dye to its diet, dully grey, but eating an oyster
will always be, as Léon-Paul Fargue, a Symbolist poet, said,
'like kissing the sea on the lips.'"
The Economist, Dec 18th 2008