The Fundamentals of Fish to Fork

Robert's Maine Grill

Aquaculture enthusiasts debate farming vs. wild harvesting.

Robert’s Maine Grill, in Kittery, Maine, used to toss all its oyster shells into the trash can behind the restaurant to be carted off to the local landfill. Not anymore.

“We were approached by the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) of New Hampshire and the University of New Hampshire in Durham to join in an oyster-shell recycling program,” says Jeremiah Fitzgerald, marketing manager for the restaurant.

Fitzgerald says they thought it was a “home-run idea,” especially since the program would be a great way to contribute to the community and the environment.

As part of the program, Grill employees collect oyster shells in 5-gallon buckets, and each week the CCA retrieves the shells and takes them to the university’s Kingman Farm in Madbury.

At the farm, the shells are seasoned for three months to kill pathogens, and then they are deposited back into New Hampshire’s Great Bay, where they make positive contributions to the environment.

The program has been running successfully for the last four years, and Robert’s Maine Grill now describes the oyster-recycling program on its menu to let patrons know how much the restaurant is invested in being sustainable.

“Our oyster shell contributions help restore historic oyster reefs, and oyster farms in Great Bay are starting to produce oysters, so the program seems to be working,” Fitzgerald says.

In recent years, recycling oyster shells has become a trend with seafood restaurants across the country. More than 50 restaurants in North Carolina alone currently reseed their oyster shells.

Farmed Fish

Another growing trend is aquaculture, which is the farming of aquatic organisms including fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and bivalves along with aquatic plants. In the world of seafood, there are two categories, wild-caught and farmed seafood, or aquaculture.

Farming implies some form of intervention in the rearing process to enhance production, such as regular stocking, feeding, and protection from predators, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).


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