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The Oyster Farmers 2017

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Green Planet Films, PO Box 247, Corte Madera, CA 94976-0247; 415-377-5471
Produced by Angela Andersen for Oak Leaf Productions
Directed by Corinne G. Ruff
DVD, color, 88 min.

High School - General Adult
Environmentalism, Fisheries, Sustainability

Date Entered: 10/26/2018

Reviewed by Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State University Libraries, Bowling Green, OH

In the 1800s, Barnegat Bay, NJ, supported a thriving oyster industry. Today, due to overfishing and pollution, the Bay now supports a small, half-shell oyster industry that sells only to local restaurants. The Eastern Oyster, once abundant in the Bay, was the first known extinction from the combination of overfishing and pollution.

Seed oysters from Rutgers University’s Haskins Shellfish Research Laboratory (HSRL) are sown on a bed of recycled oyster shells from local bars and restaurants in a promising location in Barnegat Bay. The baymen and baywomen sowing and potentially harvesting the oysters in this ‘proof of concept’ experiment to re-establish the Eastern Oyster in the Bay are continuing in legacy family oyster farming careers from the 1800s. A healthy oyster population filtering and cleaning the waters is essential to restoring the ecology of the Bay, eventually supporting other commercial fishing enterprises. If the reef succeeds, oysters will grow from seed to plate in about two years.

The Oyster Farmers is highly recommended for general audiences. Three small oyster companies/cooperatives want to re-spark the oyster industry in Barnegat Bay. A healthy coastal ecosystem must include healthy oysters. Through cooperating on leasing, using the resources of HSRL and shells from a recycling program sponsored by the Jetty Rock Foundation, the Barnegat Bay oyster could again become world famous. This film shows what can be done with cooperation from research, industry, and folks who want to sustainably restore a once thriving fishery.