Do you have a love of oysters? A delicacy to be savoured as part of your dinner on a fancy night out or enjoyed with friends and family as a simple yet special addition to a meal at home, oysters are increasingly becoming a popular seafood choice. From time to time questions are raised about the e impact of harvesting oysters and whether it is good or bad for the environment. Oyster consumption has been steadily increasing worldwide over the years and because of this, more oyster farms are being created to reduce pressure on the natural oyster populations.

But what is the environmental impact of oyster farming? Is it a good move forward?

What is oyster farming?

Oyster farming is a practice where oysters are either collected, bred or raised for their pearls, shells and oyster meat (which is the bit we all enjoy eating).

Farmed oysters are raised and managed in an environment where suitable water temperature, salinity and nutrients are available to enable oysters to thrive. When set up and managed correctly, oyster farming has a very positive impact on the environment.

Filtering of water

Did you know that a single oyster can filter 50 gallons of water per day? Oysters are part of the mollusc family, known as bi-valves. Bi-valves are known to be prolific filter feeders and will filter marine diatoms and phytoplankton throughout the water column where oysters are positioned.

An increase in oyster farming means more oysters being placed into the marine environment and that means there is more filtering of the water being done. Environmental science shows that natural filtering of water by oysters has beneficial effects on the water quality of bays and estuaries producing healthier waterways by removing excess nitrogen, CO2 and reducing the formation of harmful algal blooms.

Increases jobs

Another benefit of oyster farming is that there are more and more jobs being created. As the farming industry continues to grow, more people are needed to assist in the farming process and supply chain. The type of jobs needed extend across all aspects of the process, including infrastructure purchase and procurement, farm setup and maintenance, processing, packaging, transportation, distribution and sales.

Artificial reef systems

You wouldn’t necessarily think of an oyster cage as a reef system, however they have been proven to act as an artificial system providing additional habitat and protection for a myriad of marine species. There are many different oyster farming systems using cages and baskets for the housing and growing of oysters and these can vary greatly in shape and size.

The better and more efficient oyster farming systems suspend the oysters in baskets and cages off of the seafloor to better manage the marine fouling on both the oysters and the basket infrastructure. Although farmers aim is to manage and reduce the marine biofouling on the oysters and baskets the infrastructure still provides habitat for many other marine organisms. The protection created by the installation of these various types of artificial farming infrastructure provides protection and encourages many species of fish, crabs etc. to feed on marine growth and smaller marine creatures inhabiting this new environment.

Manmade oyster farming systems provide a similar benefit to wharfs and jetties where they provide protected nursery sites for many juvenile marine species to grow and thrive particularly in areas otherwise devoid of these types of habitats.

Sustainable solution

There is no doubt that the oyster industry is booming and that more and more people are wanting to include oysters in their diets. By having oyster farms, it means that there is a sustainable solution to the growing demand rather than oysters being harvested directly from the ocean and depleting the dwindling wild stocks. The practice of sustainable oyster farming is recognised globally as the best path forward to meeting increased demand without risking over fishing of wild stocks or plundering the ever important natural oyster reef systems.

Oyster farming is a growing industry and one that is needed to keep up with demand. Whether you are looking to get into oyster farming for the pearls or for edible oyster meat, there is a solution for you. We know how difficult farming can be and we want to help provide you with the best quality equipment to make the job easier on you and your team.

To find out more about what we have to offer and our products, get in contact with the team today.

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