We’ve always heard that eating wild fish is more responsible than eating farmed fish. How does oyster farming fit into that?
The ocean is suffering from being overfished, and that goes for any species of ocean fish. But what we do, we only take out what we put in the ocean. I plant oyster seeds, so my business is net-positive for the environment. When you’re eating a farmed oyster, you’re literally saving the planet.
Lucky me! How does oyster farming save the planet?
We don’t take from the native beds, and while our oysters are there, they’re cleaning the ocean. An oyster filters 50 gallons of water a day, and I have a half-million oysters in the water. In the area, in the 3-4 years we’ve been farming there, the water’s getting clearer, and fish that haven’t been there in a few decades are coming back, because oysters are a keystone species: they’re the beginning of the food chain. And because they’re coming back to this area where there historically were millions of oysters, we’re repopulating the ocean with everything all the way up the food chain. It’s almost like a coastal restoration, because not only is it bringing back thenatural oyster beds and the fish that used to be there, it’s also creating jobs in an area that’s lost its waterfront industry.
And as far as protein per acre, you can get more with oysters than anything and you don’t have to feed it. They just eat algae, nitrogen, and everything that creates algae blooms. All those nutrients that cause algae blooms, they eat that and metabolize it into a hard shell.
The region of Florida’s coastline where Gregg and others farm oysters was devastated in October 2018 during Hurricane Michael, resulting in losses of 60-90% of the oyster crop. Visit Pelican Oyster Company’swebsite to purchase some merch and help Gregg keep his business running while he recovers from the storm and gets his Salty Bird oysters back in production.