New Brunswick produces some of the best tasting oysters in the world and as global demand for this delicacy continues to grow so does the size of our industry.
Even with 90 plus oyster farms in the province, representing a 57% growth rate in the last 5 years, producers are having difficulty keeping up. The well nestled bays on the east coast of the province are ideal for oyster farming.
In 1969, New Brunswick resident Armand King helped launch an oyster aquaculture movement that would change the very fabric of the Richibucto Village. King and his cohort of growers dubbed themselves Village Bay Oysters, but this would be no overnight success.
It would take more than 35 years of hard work, countless hours of labour and continuous investment for King to develop the company into the sophisticated operation that stands in the village bay today. Danny King took over the helm of this family business in 2014 and with significant investments in cutting-edge, modern equipment and harvesting techniques, Village Bay is now able to produce a consistent and cleaner product and on a year-round basis.
Not only did the Kings overhaul the manner in which they harvested their oysters, they also worked tirelessly to further develop and refine the customer side of the operation with stringent food safety, traceability, quality control and third-party audits. The company has grown into one of the province’s largest oyster farms with a 500 per cent increase in production since 2014 and today, provides 50 good paying jobs for local people.
Compared to their West Coast cousins, Atlantic-grown oysters are known for their distinctive, salty flavour and meaty texture. The Atlantic region’s cold water helps give the oysters a fresh taste and a longer shelf life.
Oysters are a healthy and versatile seafood. They can be eaten on the half shell raw, baked, steamed, smoked or grilled. They can also be fried, stewed, broiled, canned or pickled and used in a variety of dishes.
“The shellfish aquaculture industry is vital to New Brunswick’s rural communities and is a significant generator of economic activity, providing jobs, tax revenue and the development of coastal communities in the province” says Danny King.
It is estimated that there are over 150 million oysters of all sizes being grown on leases covering approximately 2,700 hectares in New Brunswick today. The industry is expected to net $12 million this year. As of 2019, New Brunswick was the top seafood exporter to the United States at $1.45 billion.
New Brunswickers can purchase Village Bay oysters at Sobeys stores, some IGAs or online at the company’s website, www.villagebay.ca. Remember to ask your grocer for local products when shopping.
For recipes, please visit; https://www.aquaculture.ca/oyster-recipes.