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Oyster Capitol USA

September 19th, 2016 by Mike Vasilinda

 

For ions oysters have been harvested by digging them out at low tide or by tonging, using a long post hole type tool to lift the bivalves from the water, but now as the lack of fresh water supplies has devastated Florida’s oyster production, Mike Vasilinda tells us many believe the future is in oyster ranching.

What you are looking at may soon be the largest oyster ranch in Florida. 38 leases, totaling more than 50 acres devoted to growing oysters in cages.

“At high tide, all this is underwater” says Rob Olin. Olin has several of the leases and has organized  a co-op to manage the oysters from spat to the table.

“We’re going to be employing four to six hundred people with on the water jobs. this is what this county was built on and its been lost due to us, quite frankly, people” says Olin.

When at full production, the oyster ranchers will be producing tens of millions of oysters a year, all on submerged land leased from the state.

“We have to keep constantly separating them so we get oysters with like sized oysters.”

Attorney Fred Harris is one of the brains behind the co-op.

“We helped put this together so the co-op would be the marketing arm, and the branding arm, and the distribution arm” says Harris.

And the first harvest here begins October first.

And while it could take a few years to come to fruition, Rob Olin says oyster farming could be the futures answer to hunger.

“You get thirty times more protein off an acre of water  than you da an acre of land. We have more ranch able water in our state that any other state in the union.”

 

Shakespeare may have penned the line the world is our oyster, but this bay could soon  be the center of the oyster universe.

The co op will pasteurize the oysters before fast freezing them when shipping to out of state or country markets,  eliminating a rare but deadly disease know as vibe vulnificus, The oyster farming is a product of a new environmental education program at Tallahassee Community College.

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