Farming Coastal Waters: Applied Research Supports Oyster Growers

— Written By Kaija Beesley

Originally posted by Katie Mosher for NC Sea Grant

North Carolina is cultivating its love of oysters — along with economic opportunities for coastal communities.

“Our oyster farming industry is expanding,” says Chuck Weirich, North Carolina Sea Grant’s marine aquaculture specialist.

The state’s industry — now producing about $2 million worth of farmed oysters annually — still lags behind neighboring Virginia, whose tally is about $18 million. However, North Carolina is poised to become a major player in oyster farming.

The study documents a full year of oyster growth. Results will provide information to help optimize farms’ operating efficiencies and production levels in regions along the coast.

“Established and new growers here are eager to meet the increasing demand for single oysters to be served on the half-shell,” adds Weirich, who leads an applied research program to help the industry improve efficiency and productivity.

Jay Styron, president of the North Carolina Shellfish Growers Association, notes that the state’s farmed oysters are gaining an excellent reputation among chefs and seafood consumers. “Due to our state’s vast coastal resources, our industry has room to grow across a range of conditions, including salinities,” he explains.

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