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Alabama Oyster farming boom could boost a Gulf Coast tradition to new heights

(Video Above: The Southern Foodways Alliance shares “The Gospel of the Alabama Oyster”)

By Michael Tomberlin

Alabama’s oyster reefs have historically harvested an average of one million pounds of oysters per year and have made it one of the top oyster producing states in the nation for more than a century.

But changes to water temperature, environmental impacts, parasites and other issues have made the reefs unpredictable and, at times, unproductive.

Oyster farming – with the help of the Auburn University Shellfish Laboratory – has emerged as a more controlled way of continuing Alabama’s oyster producing traditions. This video story put together by Joe York for the Southern Foodways Alliance based at the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture talks about how oysters have a strong future through farming in the state.

“In 2009, not a single oyster farm operated on the Alabama coast. By 2015, there were eight oyster farming companies, all determined to prove that the world’s best oysters come from this Southern state. Lane Zirlott, of Murder Point Oyster Company, calls it an oyster revolution – one that focuses on presentation as much as taste, and enables hard-working families to make a consistent living on the Alabama waters,” York wrote in the introduction to the video.

Officials want to see farming grow alongside increases in reef harvesting to boost oyster production in Alabama to new heights.

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