By PATRICK WHITTLE, Related Press
BRUNSWICK, Maine (AP) — Maine is producing extra oysters than ever as a consequence of a rising variety of shellfish farms which have launched off its coast in recent times.
The state’s 2021 oyster harvest was the most important and Most worthy in its historical past, in line with latest information from the Division of Marine Assets in Maine. The state’s haul of oysters, the overwhelming majority of that are from farms, grew by greater than 50% final yr to greater than 6 million kilos.
Maine’s rising oyster enterprise has made the state a much bigger participant within the nationwide business that grows the precious shellfish, which had been valued at greater than $187 million in 2020. The expansion has additionally raised questions from members of different marine industries about whether or not the oyster enterprise is rising too quick.
Maine oysters had been value greater than $10 million on the docks final yr, a decade after they had been value lower than $1.3 million. They’re now the fourth Most worthy marine useful resource within the state, the place lobster remains to be by far crucial seafood.
The presence of extra farms has led to criticism from some lobster fishermen, who worry shedding entry to productive fishing grounds. The state wants a complete plan for the way forward for shellfish farming or it is going to lose its coast, stated Crystal Canney, government director of Defend Maine’s Fishing Heritage Basis.
“We’re seeing individuals treating this like a Wild West gold rush, and it’s irresponsible,” she stated.
Then again, the expansion of oysters is nice information for a state that has been attempting to diversify marine industries, stated Dan Devereaux, one of many homeowners of Mere Level Oyster Firm in Brunswick.
“As Mainers, we benefit from the truth that we’re up right here and the seafood is so coveted exterior the state,” he stated.
The expansion of Maine oysters is going on at a time when the nationwide oyster business is diversifying. A decade in the past, about 60% of the worth of U.S. oysters got here from Washington and Louisiana, in line with information from the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Now, these states make up 27% of the worth, and industries have grown in states together with Texas, Virginia, Massachusetts and California, NOAA information stated.
Maine’s harvest made up lower than 1% of the nation’s oyster worth in 2011 and it was 3% in 2020. Oyster farms, which generally develop oysters in cages in coastal waters, have grown in Maine in that point. There have been lower than 600 acres of shellfish farm leases in Maine in 2010 and there at the moment are about 1,000 acres, state data present.
The state stays a comparatively small producer within the nationwide oyster business, however oysters from Maine are usually extra precious than these from elsewhere, stated Sebastian Belle, government director of the Maine Aquaculture Affiliation. Maine oyster farmers usually receives a commission 10-15% greater than these from different states, he stated.
“The demand for Maine oysters is extremely sturdy, and has been for the final 10 years or so, but it surely looks as if it is getting stronger and stronger,” Belle stated.
Copyright 2022 The Related Press. All rights reserved. This materials is probably not printed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.