Eastern Oysters

Eastern Oyster
Common Name Eastern Oysters
Market Name American oyster
Scientific name Crassostrea virginica

Sourcing Summary

Size

3-4 in.

A good supply of live half shell oysters and oyster meat is available year-round. Oysters should be bought live and smell like the sea, not sulfurous. Check for freshness by tapping on the shells to see whether they close. The meat from oysters grown off the bottom in farms tends to be higher, making it a good substitute for dredged oysters. Oysters can be kept up to two weeks after collection at 36–38F in a breathable container. Buyers should look for the origin and collection date on a live-oyster shipment, which are required by law.  A variety of volume measures are used, so buyers recommend insisting on easily quantifiable units such as by the piece or by the pound. Usually Olympia oysters cost the most, followed by European, Kumamotos, Pacific, and Eastern.


Product Forms

Fresh/Frozen
Fresh
Product Forms
Half Shell
Raw Shucked
Whole

Fresh Seasonal Availability

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes

Cooking Methods

Advisory Concern

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning

Health/Nutrition

Nutrition facts

Serving Size: 100g
Amount per serving
Calories 68
Total Fat 2.46g
Cholesterol 53mg
Sodium 211mg
Carbohydrates 3.9g
Protein 7.1g
Omega-3 0.6g

Science & Management

Conservation Criteria - Wild

Impact on Stock

Eastern oysters are primarily found in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Factors such as overfishing, disease, and habitat loss have caused Eastern oyster stocks to decline to about 1% of their historical levels. Disease has had a significant impact on the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay.

Habitat impacts ( Wild)

Most Eastern oysters are harvested with bottom dredges. This method can damage marine habitats and reduce biodiversity. Scientists have found that bottom dredging has more of a negative impact on seafloor communities than bottom trawling. A small number of Eastern oysters are raised on suspension systems.

Bycatch

Bottom dredging used to collect Eastern oysters can kill non-targeted species. Since a number of organisms tend to attach themselves to oysters, including several mussels species, they tend to be the primary oyster bycatch, according to the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service.

Management effectiveness

In Canada, oyster fishing is subject to seasonal and gear restrictions. Some Mexican oyster beds are controlled by fishermen’s’ cooperatives. The Eastern oyster is managed at the state and municipal level in the U.S. and regulations vary. The Chesapeake Bay oyster fishery is both public and leased, meaning certain areas can be leased for harvesting. Any that aren’t closed as reserves or due to safety concerns are available to the public. State agencies set regulations that govern the area, including gear restrictions, seasonal limits, time limits, and catch limits.

Conservation Criteria - Farmed

Data

The regulations governing oyster farming in developed countries and some developing ones are strict and include best management practices. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, farming industry practices tend to be more stringent than the laws that apply to growing shellfish.

Effluent

Oysters filter water, cleaning it so in some places oyster farming improves the habitat, although this is not universal.

Habitat Impacts

 Pacific oysters are the most widely cultivated in the world and they are usually raised on ropes, in trays, or on the ocean floor in coastal and near-shore areas. 

Oysters farmed using on-bottom and suspension techniques have minimal impacts on the marine environment. Tongs with long handles and rake-like ends are commonly used to gather these oysters. The dredging of cultured oysters has less of an impact on the seafloor than dredging wild oysters because it’s restricted to relatively small areas. Farmers drag a metal basket containing a row of spiky teeth along the plot to uproot the oysters, causing them to fall into the basket. This dredging carries a moderate risk to marine habitats.

Feed

Farmed oysters don’t require feed so there is no loss of wild fish, and they require little or no drugs or chemicals.

Escapes and Introduced Species

Oyster farming has little risk of escapees because they aren’t capable of movement as adults. While some cultured oysters could reproduce in the wild, shellfish producers have stricter management codes than the laws that apply to the industry. The introduction of non-native oyster species to some areas, there have been some negative interactions with wild stocks. Risk of disease transfer is considered moderate because isolating oyster diseases can be very challenging.

Name Country State / Province
Albion Farms & Fisheries Canada British Columbia
American Mussel Harvesters United States Rhode Island
American Shellfish Company United States Virginia
Anderson Seafoods Inc. United States California
Anderson's Neck Oyster Company United States Virginia
Aquanor Marketing, Inc United States Massachusetts
AquaPrime Mussel Ranch Canada Nova Scotia
Atlantic Shellfish Products Inc. Canada Prince Edward Island
Barnstable Seafarms United States Massachusetts
Blue Island Oyster Company United States New York
Catanese Classic Seafood United States Ohio
Chatham Shellfish Co. United States Massachusetts
Cherrystone Aqua-Farms, Inc. United States Virginia
Chesapack Seafood United States Maryland
Chester River Seafood United States Maryland
City Fish Canada Alberta
Codfathers Seafood Market Canada British Columbia
Conchyliculture Gloucester Shellfish Co. Inc. Canada New Brunswick
Crimson Bay Seafood United States Alabama
Eel Lake Oyster Farm Ltd. Canada Nova Scotia
Euclid Fish Company United States Ohio
Future Seafoods, Inc. Canada Prince Edward Island
H.M. Terry Co., Inc. United States Virginia
Handy Seafood Incorporated United States Maryland
Harbor Pride Seafood United States California
Hog Island Oysters United States California
Hollywood Oyster Company United States Maryland
Hooper Island Oyster Aquaculture Company, LLC. United States Maryland
Hudson Valley Seafood United States New York
Imperial Seafood and Shellfish Inc. United States Ohio
Island Creek Oysters United States Massachusetts
Island Fresh Seafood United States South Carolina
JP's Shellfish, Inc. United States Maine
Little Shemogue Oyster Company Canada New Brunswick
Lowcountry Catch United States South Carolina
Madhouse Oysters United States Maryland
Maison BeauSoleil Canada New Brunswick
Marx Foods United States Washington
Mobjack Bay Seafood, Inc. United States Virginia
New York Oyster Company United States Connecticut
Ocean Cove Seafood United States Virginia
Oyster Point Seafood LLC United States South Carolina
Pacific Fresh Fish Ltd. Canada Saskatchewan
Pacific Harvest Seafoods United States California
Prince Edward Aqua Farms Canada Prince Edward Island
Rappahannock River Oysters United States Virginia
Red's Best United States Massachusetts
Royal Hawaiian Seafood United States California
Sam Rust Seafood United States Virginia
Santa Monica Seafood, Inc. United States California
Sarasota Seafood Company United States Florida
Sarl Huitres Courdavault Alain France 7
SCO Marine Resources and Development United States Maryland
Sea to Table, USA United States New York
Shores & Ruark Seafood, Inc. United States Virginia
St. Jude Farms United States South Carolina
Stavis Seafoods United States Massachusetts
Taylor Shellfish Farms, Inc United States Washington
The Fish Guys Inc. United States Minnesota
Thimble Island Oyster Company United States Connecticut
Ward Oyster Company United States Virginia