Twin win for fledgling oyster farmer

13 April 2019, at 9:00am

A young oyster producer in Maine, who is developing a patent-pending system to help automate the oyster harvesting process, has received $15,000 in prize money.

Maxwell Burtis an undergraduate at the University of Maine who also runs Ferda Farms LLC, won the funding by topping two categories at the 2019 UMaine Business Challenge. He has pledged to use it “towards solar on the farm to increase the sustainability in all aspects and reduce the unwanted features of traditional oyster tumblers”.

Tumblers are used to wash, sort, and shape the shells of oysters and Ferda is in the process of redesigning the traditional tumbler to decrease the manpower needed and to increase efficiency. As their tumbler will be located offshore, they aim to power it with a floating solar array.

According to Mainebiz, on winning the prize, the freshman mechanical engineering student said: "These prizes are huge for the expansion of our oyster farm and continued innovation along Maine's coast. The competition is giving Ferda Farms the opportunity we have long dreamed of: to buy more cages, quahog seed and solar panels, allowing us to continue to improve Maine's waters, and revitalize Maine's changing fisheries with aquaculture."

Senior editor at The Fish Site

Rob Fletcher has been writing about aquaculture since 2007, as editor of Fish Farmer, Fish Farming Expert and The Fish Site. He has an MA in history from the University of Edinburgh and an MSc in sustainable aquaculture from the University of St Andrews. He currently lives and works in Scotland.

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