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Port Tries Growing Oysters In San Diego Bay

The Port of San Diego is working to see if it is possible to grow juvenile oysters for commercial purposes.

The Port of San Diego is working to see if it is possible to grow juvenile oysters for commercial purposes in San Diego Bay.

Researchers have several small baskets submerged in the water off the city's G Street Pier. Inside are hundreds of small oysters. This small operation is considered a first step toward a potentially large industry.

"We're setting up small baskets to collect data. This is our first location and in the new year we'll have five other locations," said Paula Sylvia, a research biologist who works at the Port of San Diego.

San Diego Oysters

Juvenile oysters shown here at the San Diego G Street Pier.

The regions warm water temperatures make it a good spot to grow oysters. The oysters start out as pepper-sized flecks. Within four months, the oysters will be the size of a quarter and ready for sale.

"It's not just a great business and it's not just a great job creator ... we think this is going to be great for our region, but also for the state of California. We're the first state lands trust port to do this. And we want to share this with our other, fellow sister ports," said Marshall Merrifield, chairman of the Port of San Diego board of commissioners.

The shellfish can't grow everywhere in the bay because some locations are just too polluted. But there are a lot of places where, biologists think, oysters can thrive. There is a real possibility this could become a significant source of seafood.

"Aquaculture and fisheries complement each other. Here in San Diego we have a huge market. We have a great climate to grow lots of different species. So the opportunity is big for the United States here to help us increase our domestic supply of seafood," Sylvia said.

Commercial oyster nursery operations typically operate off a barge. Those vessels could be tethered to a pier or be moored somewhere in the bay.

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Erik Anderson
Environment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI focus on the environment and all the implications that a changing or challenging environment has for life in Southern California. That includes climate change, endangered species, habitat, urbanization, pollution and many other topics.

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