The
long-standing oyster culture we know today is based on fundamental aspects of
the ocean. This industry is heavily influenced by ocean properties such as
water temperatures, salinity gradients, ocean movement, residing ecosystems,
benthic environments and natural ocean-produced foods (Galtsoff 1964; Shumway
1996). Industry’s performance is not only based on the oceanic impacts, but
also the atmospheric influences. There has always been an co-dependent
relationship between the ocean and atmosphere in oyster production (Loosanoff
and Nomejko 1949; Lund 1957 a, b). Weather development and climatic change is remains
very important (Loosanoff and Nomejko 1949; Lund 1957 a,b; Galtsoff 1964). Owing
to this, we are subjected to culture oysters within the necessary parameter
provided by the most suited areas in respect of our species of choice. Luckily,
the Eastern oyster is widely adapted to various ranges of salinities,
temperatures, substrates and suspended solid concentrations (Galtsoff 1964; Andrews
1979a). In a natural scenario, bivalves are gregarious in nature, hence they
are usually found in concentrated populations (Galtsoff 1964). The natural
benefit to this would be promoting ‘survival of the fitness’ where strong
members within the population would have more access to the limited resources.
However, in an aquaculture setting, this is seen as an limitation as it
encourages intraspecific competition among peers (Hadley and Manzi 1984;
Jarayabhand and Newkirk 1989; Fréchette and Lefaivre 1990; Parsons and Dadswell
1992; Fréchette 1998). In bivalve culture, an inverse relationship is noted
between stocking densities and growth (St. Félix et al. 1984). Furthermore, in
some cases, this same type of relationship is seen between stocking density and
survival (Fréchette and Lefaivre 1990). In addition to this, it
is important to note that structural composition may become compromised due to
high stocking densities of shellfish (Adams et al. 1994). All these mentioned
relationships in respect to stocking density; growth rates, survival and proper
shell composition are important traits in oyster culture (Lavoie 1996).

Mariculture
in oysters is govern by these basic awareness and principles (FAO 2004). Open-water
cultivation is divided into two types: ‘suspended culture’ otherwise known as
‘off-bottom culture’ and ‘bottom culture’ (FAO 2004).  Bottom culture is the simplest method of
culturing oysters; this involves growing of naturally-produced or
hatchery-based oyster spat on the ‘seafloor’ (FAO 2004). Recent developments
within the industry has allow for man-made hatcheries to provide nursery
environments of oyster spat. This aids in the overall proliferation and
survival of the next generation of oysters. (FAO 2004). Upon reaching a large
enough size they are transplanted to the seafloor to grow until they become
market size (FAO 2004). Bottom culture is relatively inexpensive in respect to
harvesting, however, preparing a stable benthic environment, cost may become
strenuous (FAO 2004). It is important to maintain stable substrate as this may
affect oyster growth and quality (Galtsoff 1964). One of the main issues with
bottom culture is predation (Galtsoff 1964). This can be reduced by
implementing various new forms of bottom culture, few of which are: bag- and-longline
culture, rack-and-bag culture, Standway tube culture and Lantern nets (FAO
2004). Each form possesses their own advantages and disadvantages however; the
principle remains the same (FAO 2004). 

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Off-bottom
culture is the newly modernized way of farming oysters (Lavoie 1996). In this
method of culture, oysters are housed in various types of mesh bags that are
situated off the seafloor. Spat gained through either hatchery-rearing or
natural populations are placed in these containers to prevent predation (Lavoie
1996; Comeau 2013). Similar bottom culture, there are many modified forms suspended
culture, where each possessing their own advantages and disadvantages (Lavoie
1996). This method of culture is more desirable as it provides many benefits to
its use; few of which are: increased survival, biofouling control, high quality
shell structure formation and product efficiency and consistency (Galtsoff
1964; Quayle & Newkirk 1989; Lavoie 1996; Bastien-Daigle et al.
2007).

Despite
the chosen method of culture, oyster processing post-harvest is necessary.
Processing plants would receive scrubbed oysters which would then be processed
based on their consumers’ preferences. Some are processed as whole oysters
which are often seen in the restaurant industry while others prefer shucked
oysters where the meat would be processed as a value-added product (FAO 2004).

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