Oyster farmer tends to his lines in Alabama. Photo credit: Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium
The Gulf Coast oyster industry has suffered a number of setbacks, both natural and man-made, that are challenging an industry built around inexpensive, plentiful oysters. Off-bottom oyster farming for the high-value, half-shell niche market provides an opportunity for Gulf residents to create jobs, provide high-quality oysters for the marketplace and improve the environment.
MSAL Sea Grant-funded scientists, extension staff and legal staff created an integrated program utilizing research and outreach programs on production methods and best management practices leading to the creation of a new oyster farming industry. Based on a situation and outlook survey of 2016 farms, nine of 13 permitted farms reported more than 2.8 million oysters produced on 18.1 acres, with total annual sales of almost $2 million. The oyster farming industry in Alabama was non-existent prior to 2010.