Meet the Farmers
Josh Neese has been exploring, studying, and deepening his understanding of oysters and oyster seed on America’s Gulf Coast since 2008. He served as the hatchery manager for the Alabama DNCR Division of Marine Resources in Gulf Shores for five years and spent a year as a biologist with Louisiana Fish and Wildlife in Grand Isle. In both roles, he worked in an aquaculture facility rearing oysters and finfish in order to supplement and restore wild-stock populations. He also spent two years producing commercial oyster seed and managing farm operations as the VP of Operations for a private oyster operation. In April 2020, in an effort to generate a larger industry-wide impact, and recognizing that the most prevalent need of oyster farmers is access to local seed, he founded The Florida Oyster Trading Company.
Josh has a B.S. in Marine Biology and M.S. in Fisheries and Aquaculture from the University of West Florida, and he is the US representative for SmartOysters. He is extremely well-positioned to make an impact as, through his experience, he has built expansive and long-lasting connections to farms, NGOs, suppliers, and state agencies throughout the country.
Sustainable Agriculture Practices
Too many oyster farmers are limited to purchasing out-of-state seed (and only when it’s available) in order to grow in local estuaries. This is both economically and ecologically unsustainable. In contrast, The Florida Oyster Trading Company maintains local genetic authenticity while assisting farms with seafood integrity and sustainability. They do this in a number of ways:
- Their patent-pending micro-hatchery production model produces authentic local seed and genetic certification for farmers by utilizing only locally and sustainably sourced broodstock
- Their production site is in a high nutrient area with the salinity necessary for developmental growth, so they never have to use chemical treatments and can rely on native algae for feed.
- By cultivating a cluster consisting of farms, they’re piloting a scalable enterprise that can be a model across the country.
- As consumers enjoy the true, native products of the local waters facilitated by The Florida Oyster Trading Company’s resources, they’ll be engaged in supporting both local blue businesses and the ecosystem restoration that local oyster farms are undertaking.