From Oyster Farm to Table

The growth of oyster farming has provided valuable employment opportunities for watermen and others while filtering water and providing habitat for animals like fish and crabs. Follow the journey of aquaculture from the oyster farm to your table.

  • Hatchery operators collect native oysters from the wild, or use native oysters that have been bred to resist disease.

  • Broodstock spawn and produce oyster larvae. They can either be placed in setting tanks where they attach to empty oyster shells, or grown in tanks until they are big enough to be placed in cages.

  • Farmed oysters grow for approximately two years while they help filter water and provide habitat. Oysters attached to shells grow on a shell base on the bottom. Oysters in cages are placed near the Bay bottom or float on the surface.

  • Bottom-grown oysters are harvested using tongs or dredges. Single oysters are removed from their cages.

  • Processors sort and check oysters for quality. Some are bagged and boxed for distribution, and others are shucked and sold in jars or cans.

  • Some packers sell directly to restaurants and the public. Others sell through wholesalers.

  • Ask for local, farm-raised Chesapeake Bay oysters at your favorite restaurants and markets.

  • Eat an oyster, save the Bay! Enjoy on the half shell, or in your favorite recipe.

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