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Oyster Farmers Raising The Bottom-Dwellers

by Ellen Hardy
03 January 2008, at 12:00am

US - There aren't many oysters on the floor of the Choptank River - but there are millions floating near the surface in floats owned by an oyster hatchery getting statewide attention for its success raising oysters where they'd nearly been wiped out.

The Marinetics company has about five million oysters living on 3,000 floats in a river near Cambridge. The business, founded by a husband and wife team interestes in oyster recovery, raises disease-free oysters - a rarity in the troubled Chesapeake Bay watershed.

"It's not a real easy way to make a living," said Kevin McClarren, who manages the oyster hatchery, also called the Choptank Oyster Co. The oysters McClarren raises, marketed as "Choptank Sweets," end up on restaurant plates, bought by chefs who need a steady supply of healthy oysters.

Three of Maryland's commercial oyster growers use floats to raise the oysters. That's because the bottom of the bay and its rivers are choked with sediment, making oyster life difficult.

"It's not a fail-safe, but the risks are probably quite a bit less than if they were grown on the bottom," said Karl Roscher, aquaculture coordinator for the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

Roscher told the newspaper that on the bottom, oysters grow about an inch a year, a slow rate of growth making them susceptible to disease before they reach the market size of 3 inches.

Source: Wjz.com

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Ellen Hardy