– Research –

European Oysters


Developing Techniques for Breeding and Rearing:

European oysters, Ostrea edulis, commonly called “flat” oysters, have been used as a food source by humans for millennia, with ancient Romans raising them using aquaculture. More recently, overfishing, habitat loss, and disease have kept European production at a very low level.   

Fisheries managers introduced Ostrea edulis to Maine waters in the 1950s, thinking the species may be less susceptible to predation by green crabs.  Wild European oysters are now found in limited quantities in eastern Maine and seem to respond well to the region’s colder waters, which are not well-suited for the popular American oyster.  

DEI has successfully cultured European oysters, but results have been inconsistent. Developing a process for consistent success will allow DEI to ensure a supply of European oyster seed to growers.  Reliable access to European oyster seed will allow existing oyster farmers to diversify their product line, and the oyster’s suitability for farming in downeast Maine’s colder waters will offer new opportunities for entrepreneurs in this region.  With support from the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center and the Maine Economic Improvement Fund, DEI has continued our efforts to culture this unique species.  

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