There are many different species of oysters farmed worldwide. Oysters, like wine, have unique and distinct flavors depending on where they are grown. Salinity and water temperature of the region they are farmed in play a big role in creating the flavor profile of oysters. Farmed oysters from around the world are considered an ocean-friendly seafood choice because they can be farmed without significantly impacting the environment. However, there are many oyster farmers in the New England area growing the native Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica). Eastern oysters are an ocean-friendly, local seafood option and can be found in seafood shops and restaurants across the New England area.

 

Also known as:

American oyster, Eastern oyster, Pacific oyster

Availability:

Year-round

Product forms:

Live, whole; shucked

Shopping tips:

Farmed oysters are often marketed based on the location they are grown in, with subtle changes in flavor caused by differing salinities and culture environments. Try a variety before choosing your favorite. Farmed oysters taste best after they have spawned, when the animals are collecting glycogen, and becoming "fat" for New England oysters spawning may begin in spring with rising temperatures.

Substitutions:

Other farmed bivalve species such as clams are also ocean-friendly options but there is no substitute for a delicious, fresh and local oyster.

Recipe:

Farm-raised oyster mignonette

Oyster farming: Oyster farming can take place directly on the seafloor or kept off the bottom using trays or mesh bags. More.

Conservation notes:

Oysters are an ocean-friendly seafood choice because they are farmed with relatively low impact on the environment. More.
Last updated: June 2010

 

Oyster farming

Oyster farming starts by raising oyster seed (baby oysters) in a hatchery and then placing them into the intertidal environment to grow to market size. Oyster farming can either take place directly on the seafloor or kept off the bottom using mesh bags or trays. When ready for harvest oysters on the seafloor can be either dredged or hand picked. Oysters farmed in bags or trays can simply be removed from the water for harvesting. The time it takes to grow oysters to market size varies with temperature and salinity of the water, but may take between 1-3 years.

Conservation Notes

Oysters are an ocean-friendly seafood choice because they are farmed with relatively low impact on the environment. Oysters do not require additional feed inputs such as fish meal from wild-capture fisheries. Instead, they filter-feed on tiny particles, plankton, and organic matter found in the water column. Therefore, oysters are self-sustaining and can actually improve local water quality. Oysters can be farmed without adding chemicals or antibiotics that can be harmful to the surrounding environment. Farming oysters can also reduce fishing pressure on wild oyster populations that have suffered from overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction.