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Oyster production business opportunity for Jamaicans

By Twila Wheelan

KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) –  The National Fisheries Authority (NFA) is encouraging Jamaicans to consider the production of oysters, to meet the existing demand.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the NFA, Dr Gavin Bellamy, said interested persons can come into the Authority’s office to register and learn about the regulatory process.

“There is a market, because in the Corporate Area you will see oysters sold at events, parties and dances, and in food establishments. With it being on sale regularly, persons will be able to get the product and have good sale of it,” he told JIS News. Dr Bellamy also said the NFA has focused its efforts on providing technical and financial support to fishermen cooperatives interested in oyster production.

Currently, the Authority is focusing on developing oyster production in Savanna- la-Mar, Westmoreland and Green Island, in Hanover.

“We are encouraging this production around the island, but I must say that for Savanna-la-Mar and Green Island, they are doing very well. We are encouraging them and providing support, so they can increase the production and produce sufficiently, so we can put additional amounts into the tourism sector and the local market to minimise some of the importation,” he said.

Meanwhile, senior director in the aquaculture branch at the NFA, DeHaan Brown, said oyster production has minimal start-up costs associated with it.

“Our method of culture was developed locally by our scientists here and it uses a method of racks, bamboos and logs. Additionally, the young oysters, which are the spats, persons could get them from our facility. The last time we checked, we found that the cost to set up a five-rack system was between $60,000 and $70,000,” he noted.

Input costs, such as feed, would also be non-existent as oysters are filter feeders. This means they strain and extract suspended food matter in water.

“All you have to do is purchase the spats, string them out and wait four or five months and then you will have oysters. It’s that simple,” he said.

Persons interested in oyster production need to operate by a low-tide area or protected bay area to avoid increased wave action.

Good bay areas are normally located on the south and northeastern coasts, including locations in Portland, St Mary and St Thomas.

Brown also said people can find opportunities in value-added oyster products.

“Products like the Oyster punch came out of the NFA’s thrust to drive demand for the product. Another part is a business opportunity for dried oysters and oyster sauces that already exist in developed countries. These can drive our industry forward,” he said.

For more information on oyster production and opportunities in the Aquaculture Branch at the Authority, call 876-984-9343.



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