The American oyster, Cassostrea virginica, is found along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of North America, including here in Maine. Oysters are usually found in tidal creeks, estuaries and bays with brackish water to full salinity seawater. The oyster is the focus of an important commercial fishery up and down the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts to Florida, with similar commercial efforts on the Pacific coasts of North America (including Alaska and Hawaii).
Demand for oysters continues to grow, but the US aquaculture industry has been unable to provide adequate supplies. Problems with predation and disease among oysters caused devastation in wild stocks, and for farmed oysters. Increasing acidity levels in our oceans is having an effect on the ability to hatch and rear juvenile oysters. Today, a large proportion of US consumed oysters are imported, generally from Asia. Concerns about quality, safety and sustainability open the door to substantially higher production of oysters for US farmers.
Our Schoodic Oysters
Schoodic Peninsula, Maine
Ultra Fresh & Ready for Market
Indoor Oyster Aquaculture
- AHI has been running growth trials with oysters since 2014, to learn more about their growth conditions and the economics of raising them indoors.
- The founders of AHI, Chris Heinig and Tap Pryor, have extensive experience growing various species of oysters in Maine, Hawaii, France and Morroco.
- Our trials are part of the low- to zero-waste studies performed with grant support from the Maine Technology Institute and the National Science Foundation.
- Oysters are very efficient filter feeders, taking nutrients from the water around them. An oyster is capable of filtering up to 50 gallons of water per day.
- In AHI’s IMTA system (Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture), oysters, and potentially other shellfish, serve to help process wastes coming from our fish tanks. With a steady year-round supply of warm water and nutrients, we can grow oysters faster than in cold local waters.
- Another potential advantage of growing oysters indoors may be the ability to protect them from predators, parasites and toxins that affect their health and marketability when grown in the ocean.
- AHI is launching another trial in 2016 to evaluate both the operating system requirements for growing oysters indoors, as well as the economics of doing so. When the trial oysters reach market size, our plan is to test them for safety and marketability, and then to make them available to our distributors for test marketing.