Sustainable Oyster Farming

Photo by: Percita (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Photo by: Percita (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Every farm is a reef and provides ecosystem services to the surrounding bay or estuary. Oysters may be the world's most sustainable fishery: you don't have to feed or water them, they are quite low on the food chain, and their carbon footprint is practically nil--especially if the oysters you are eating are grown locally. 

Oyster farmers are hard working people who know the water and know a lot about shellfish biology. Some farmers are even marine biologists. That is why we are working with oyster farmers, supporting them, and advocating for them.

For a big state, California’s oyster industry is confined to a small area. Tomales Bay is the center of the action, with several small growers, including Hog Island. Coast Seafoods, the largest oyster company in the country, has major Kumamoto farms to the north in Humboldt Bay. Other than a handful of quixotic operations in Carlsbad, Santa Barbara, and Morro Bay, that’s it. It’s all in the geography. California isn’t blessed with many bays. It has one world-class bay (San Francisco), and one dinky one (Humboldt). San Francisco Bay held billions of Olympia oysters in the 1850s, zero in the 1860s. By the time Pacific oyster seed was available from Japan, San Francisco Bay was far too polluted to grow oysters. Tomales Bay, the other workable water body, is a geological freak. When Point Reyes, the tomahawk-shaped wedge of land that is the tip of the Pacific Continental Plate, slammed into the rest of California, which edges the North AmericanContinental Plate, it didn’t make a perfect fit. Tomales Bay is the imperfection, more a crevice than a typical bay.
— Rowan Jacobsen's A Geography of Oysters

Support oyster farmers near San Francisco when you are in the mood for oysters. By buying and eating oysters, you are supporting these farmers, their oysters reefs, and their surrounding ecosystem.

  • Hog Island Oyster Company
  • Tomales Bay Oyster Company
  • Bodega Bay Oyster Company
  • Marin Oyster Company
  • Starbird Mariculture
  • Cove Mussels Company
Linda Hunter