Oyster farming growing with rising tide of demand

MAINE - Draped in morning fog, the water near the mouth of the Cousins River was dark and quiet last week as Eric Horne and Valy Steverlynck motored upstream in their 22-foot work skiff. </b> <br><br> Below the surface, invisible to boaters, tens of thousands of oysters rested on the estuary floor. Horne and Steverlynck knew where to find these shellfish beds. Oyster farmers, they&#39;ve spent three years raising these bivalves, since each was no bigger than a grain of sand. <br><br> Later in the week, full-grown oysters from the Cousins River were on the menu at the oyster bar inside Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, D.C., a landmark watering hole near the White House. A plate of a dozen oysters sells for $20.95. <br><br> Oyster farming isn&#39;t a get-rich-quick scheme, however. It takes three years for oysters to mature. Horne and Steverlynck&#39;s company, Flying Point Oysters, made a small profit last year, but owes $60,000 in business start-up costs. The firm hopes to erase that debt, by capitalizing on an unsated appetite for oysters at some of North America&#39;s premier restaurants and seafood sellers. <br><br> <i></i>

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