Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation
Connecting Local Chefs with Olympia Oysters
- Author(s): Barnes, Dominique
- et al.
Molluscan shellfish, such as clams and oysters, often typify “sustainable seafood.” Most species filter feed turning the ocean’s primary productivity into protein biomass while providing ecosystem services, such as improving water quality. When properly regulated, as in the United States, shellfish farming can provide high rates of production of healthy, safe protein per unit area, can protect coastal ecosystems, and can provide livelihoods. Shellfish are a desirable farmed product, accounting for 25% of the world’s total aquaculture. As of 2012, however 88.5% of global aquaculture came from the Asia-Pacific region and only 0.8% from the United States. Shellfish aquaculture on the West Coast of North America is currently dominated by three species native to other parts of the world: Mediterranean mussel, and the Pacific oyster and Manila clam from Asia. Despite the popularity of these non-native shellfish there is a native oyster that was once a culinary favorite in the Western United States; the Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida). This project uses interdisciplinary methods to determine the marketing potential of native Olympia oysters to local restaurants and addresses barriers as to why there is currently a lack of culinary demand in Southern California. The project will look at the biological characteristics of the Olympia oyster as related to aquaculture and marketing, and the economic and social potential of this oyster as an avenue to enhance awareness of the product.