Featured Image: Coastal Conservation League
Mariculture, or the cultivation of fish and marine life for food, is on the rise in the Lowcountry. Spearheaded by several oyster farmers who have set up shop between McClellanville and Bluffton, South Carolina, the dedication to mariculture has become increasingly important as the world’s population continues to grow and the demand for seafood quickly follows.
Advocates of oyster farming, and oyster farmers themselves, often talk about the economic and environmental benefits of mariculture. For example, oysters can filter an average of 50 gallons of water per day, helping clean the water in our rivers and oceans. Not only that, but the oyster beds also serve as a natural habitat for shrimp, fish and crabs, all of which are staples of the Lowcountry diet. Additionally, the sale of oysters generates more than $1 million in revenue and more than $100,000 in taxes in the Charleston area alone.
To help deal with the demand for oysters in the Lowcountry, the South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement Program (SCORE), which is run by the SC Department of Natural Resources, seeks to re-establish oyster beds in vulnerable areas of the coast using recycled oyster shells. Not only do these oyster beds help prevent the loss of habitats for marine animals like shrimp, fish and crabs, but they also provide a base for future oysters to grow, replenishing the availability of naturally-grown oysters.
Check out these leaders in the Mariculture industry:
- Lowcountry Oyster Co.
- Lady’s Island Oyster Company
- Charleston Oyster Farm
- May River Oyster Company
- Barrier Island Oyster Company
In conclusion, the practice of raising fish or shellfish provides an alternative for harvesting wild seafood. Not only would this provide a more sustainable method for providing South Carolina its beloved seafood, but it could also create jobs for South Carolinians. All while helping keep our creeks, marshes and other intercoastal waters clean.