Friday, April 18, 2014

Oyster Sales Through the Grocery Channel Rise 4% in 2013- Learn to Shuck

According to data from Neilsen Perishables Group  and published in SeaFood Business oyster purchases rose 4% although the grocery channel in 2013.  Oysters make up 16.8% of mollusk sales through this channel with scallops being the percentage leader with over 56% of sales. Clams made up 15% of sales with mussels making up a lowly 7% of sales. 

Grocery store sales of oysters, clams, mussels and scallops
Mollusk Sales through the grocery channel.

The typical oyster purchase was slightly more than $10 with spikes in oyster purchases around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Perhaps delicious oyster stuffing is on the menu. 

The shucking challenge tends to keep some from enjoying this delicacy at home. But don't let not knowing this important life skill stop you. Shucking lessons are available at the North End Fish Market on Saturday's from 1:00-3:00 pm. Many of the people in the Mass Oyster Project have learned there.  
Oysters Oyster  Oyster Shucking Lessons
Shucking lessons are fun at Boston's North End Fish Market

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Restoring Coastal Ecosystems With Oyster Reefs Creates Jobs and Economic Benefits

We saw this article on the Climate Progress Blog and printed excerpts . The original REport can be found here. 

Restoring coastal ecosystems can provide significant economic benefits and even create “pathways out of poverty” for low-income Americans, according to a new report by the Center for American Progress and Oxfam America.  They looked at three coastal restoration projects on different coasts in the U.S. and found that, for every $1 invested in coastal restoration projects, $15 in net economic benefits was created. These benefits include improved fish stocks, due to the fact that 75 percent of the U.S.’s most important commercial fish species rely on coastal environments at some point in their life cycle, with many young fish and crustaceans using habitats such as oyster reefs as nurseries.

A bird stands on an oyster shell strip atop an existing reef in the Gulf of Mexico off the Texas coast on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013.

Coastal restoration also provides increased protection from storm surges, improved coastal recreation opportunities, health benefits from increased levels of filter feeders such as oysters, and last of all, jobs: for every $1 million invested in coastal restoration, the report notes, 17 jobs were created on average. 
“We learned in a nutshell that there’s a win-win, if not a win-win-win, opportunity that presents itself when you invest in conservation,” Mark Schaefer, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Conservation and Management at NOAA, said at the report’s release event Wednesday. “The economic benefits are remarkable … there’s a direct connection between what we’re doing to enhance the environment and what we’re doing to enhance economic opportunity.
In one of the restoration projects the report studied, scientists and other officials worked to improve two coastal habitats of Virginia’s Seaside Bays: oyster reefs andsubmerged aquatic vegetation, an ecosystem composed of sea grasses that grow in shallow water. Both of these ecosystems have faced sharp declines in Virginia and worldwide, but restoration efforts led to the creation of new oyster reefs at 14 sites along the coast — 22.1 acres of functional oyster reefs in all — and 133 acres that were seeded with eelgrass, an area that scientists think will expand to 1,703 acres of seagrass bed in the next 24 years. 
Restoring these ecosystems have safety benefits, as well. Coastal wetlands help buffer coastal communities from strong storm surges by soaking up seawater. According to the report, up to 60 percent of the damage done to Gulf Coast communities from hurricanes happens because there aren’t healthy barrier ecosystems in place.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Oyster Shell Recycling to Support of Oyster Restoration is Taking Off- Programs Starting in Brewster, Nantucket, and Stewart Florida

It is a calm period before the waters warm, the oysters become active and our coasts begin bustling with people enjoying the beautiful waters. Yet it is not a period of inactivity. Nantucket is preparing for its Summer of shell recylcing. Brewster is also starting a program. Mass Oyster is working with Charlestown, Mass recycling company Save-That-Stuff to supply Brewster with recycled buckets.

oyster reef restoration through shell recycling
Oyster shell recycling buckets set to be delivered to Brewster. 

If you want to help- here are four ways.

1. We need to get these buckets from Boston to Main Street in Brewster. Email if you have room in your car for two stacks of buckets and a stack of lids. Its about the equivalent of a person and a half of space in your car. 

2. We need more participating restaurants. If you frequently consume oysters when you dine out- we can send you leave behind cards to encourage the chef/manager to join our program. email and we will forward you some. 

3. Do you have time and a car to drive and pick-up shell on a regular basis? One of our volunteer drivers has a scheduling challenge so we could use more help. 

4. Frequent the Boston Langham Hotel who has been a keystone participant to our shell-recyling program. Tell them you heard about their terrific Sunday Brunch here. 

Below is an article about a program starting in Stuart Florida. We highlight it because it is well written and highlights the participating restaurants. 

Mark Perry, executive director of Florida Oceanographic Society, along with Vincent Encomio, PhD, director of scientific research, have partnered with City of Stuart Mayor Troy McDonald, Mary Kindel (recycling and conservation coordinator) and Cheryl Miller (designer and GIS/LIS coordinator) to recycle oyster shell and restore important oyster habitat in the St. Lucie River Estuary. This recycling and restoration program leads to long-term and significant ecological improvements to the health of our estuary and provides additional recreational and economic benefits to our community.
Mark Perry, executive director of Florida Oceanographic Society, along with Vincent Encomio, PhD, director of scientific research, have partnered with City of Stuart Mayor Troy McDonald, Mary Kindel (recycling and conservation coordinator) and Cheryl Miller (designer and GIS/LIS coordinator) to recycle oyster shell and restore important oyster habitat in the St. Lucie River Estuary. This recycling and restoration program leads to long-term and significant ecological improvements to the health of our estuary and provides additional recreational and economic benefits to our community.
 — Oysters are a delicacy for many, but they also play an important role in cleansing our estuary. A single oyster can filter between 20 and 50 gallons of water per day.
That’s why the City of Stuart is proud to announce its new partnership with Florida Oceanographic Society in the Treasure Coast Shell Recycling Program. This regional program initiated by Florida Oceanographic provides a valuable service by collecting discarded oyster, clam and mussel shells, recycling them, then deploying the shell into the estuary to provide a habitat for new oysters.
Vincent Encomio, PhD, director of scientific research at Florida Oceanographic, spearheads this effort to restore the oyster population in the St. Lucie River Estuary and Indian River Lagoon.
“We are thrilled to partner with the City of Stuart for this important environmental program. Oysters are critical to cleaning the water, controlling erosion, and providing habitat and food for more than 300 estuarine species,” Dr. Encomio explained. “The reefs that we build with this recycled shell provide new substrate for oysters to settle and grow upon. We also cultivate oyster larvae and spat at our Coastal Center, which is used to populate the oyster-shell reefs. We monitor the progress of these growing oysters using traditional methods and cutting-edge acoustic technology.”
Participating local restaurants receive collection buckets, along with drink coasters and bookmarks to accompany customer checks. These materials help increase public awareness of the program and illustrate the importance of oyster restoration for a healthy river.
The oyster shells are collected by Florida Oceanographic each week and brought to the Coastal Center to be quarantined for three or more months. After the required isolation period, the shells are bagged with the help of volunteers and strategically deployed in the estuary. This project helps to restore important oyster habitat, leading to long-term and significant ecological improvements to the health of the river, as well as providing additional recreational and economic benefits to our community.
By visiting the following restaurants within the City of Stuart and ordering oysters, clams or mussels, you become an important participant in the oyster restoration project:
• Fresh Catch Seafood Grill, 1411 SE Indian Street, Stuart, 772-286-6711,
• Mulligan’s Beach House and Grill, 61 W Osceola Street, Stuart, 772-288-1881,
• Riverwalk CafĂ© and Oyster Bar, 201 SW St. Lucie Ave., Stuart, 772-221-1511,
• Spoto’s Oyster Bar and Grill, 131 SW Flagler Ave., Stuart, 772-220-7772,
To learn more about the Treasure Coast Shell Recycling and Florida Oceanographic Oyster Restoration programs, visit or

Friday, April 4, 2014

Job Opportunity- Learn to grow shellfish and oysters in New Jersey

Seasonal Technicians: Rutgers University Shellfish Research Laboratory and
the New Jersey Aquaculture Innovation Center. We currently have one
remaining Culture position at the NJ AIC to start as soon as possible and
one remaining summer hatchery position at Rutgers Cape Shore Laboratory.
Salary $11.00-$11.50/hr ($440-$460/week). Dormitory facilities are
available at both laboratories. We are seeking talented undergraduates or
recent college graduates who have interest in any of the above-mentioned
areas. Interviews will continue until the positions are filled. Send
resume and cover letter to: 

Gregory DeBrosse,
Haskin Shellfish Research
Lab, 6959
Miller Avenue, Port Norris, NJ  08349 or (preferably) electronically to

See also attached position descriptions.

Gregory A. DeBrosse
Rutgers University Shellfish Research Lab
Director, Cape Shore Laboratory
Manager, NJ Aquaculture Innovation Center
6959 Miller Avenue
Port Norris, NJ  08349
Phone: (609)463-0633
Fax: (609)463-0299

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Geoducks- The Giant Mollusk of the Pacific Northwest

This post draws upon an article in Seafood Business. You can see that article here

The geoduck (Panopea generosa), is a species of very large, edible, saltwater clam. The shell can grow to 8 inches in length,but the neck can grow another 3 feet. It is this neck that makes it interesting to foodies. The Geoduck can live a long time- up to 175 years and it takes over 30 years to reach market sizes. The common name is derived from an Indian word meaning "dig deep". The geoduck is native to the north west coast of North America and is harvested in Washington State, Alaska and British Columbia. 

Postcard Promoting Geoduck's

The geoduck's attractiveness has created an $80-million U.S. industry. But alas there is trouble in Geoduck-land. In December 2013, China imposed an indefinite ban of geoduck  that were imported from the west coast of the United States. In China they had been selling for $150 a pound. Chinese officials claimed to have found in an Alaskan shipment high levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning, a biotoxin that shellfish can accumulate which, when eaten by humans, can cause severe illness or even death. Some 90% of the geoduck catch had been exported to China. This may create an opportunity for US foodies and restaurants. 
Geoducks ready for purchase
Geoducks awaiting purchase

The elongated giant clam is a rumored aphrodisiac, Northwest icon and reality TV star (appearing on “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” “Bizarre Foods,” “Top Chef,” “Dirty Jobs” and “Chopped,” to name a few). To eat the geoduck you can pan fry it and savor its light,  sweet flavor or include it in a chowder or sushi.

Until about 10 years ago, most geoducks were wild and harvested by divers. But farmed production has grown to almost 1.5 to 2 million pounds annually. Most of the production comes from Taylor and Seattle Shellfish. There are also two dozen or so smaller farming operations.

We are trying to figure out a way to bring this delicacy to a mass oyster event.  While supporting oyster restoration you can take a walk on the molluscan giant side.

Harvesting Geoducks