Stationed on the deep blue waters of Pensacola Bay, The Florida Oyster Trading Company is a ‘for the industry, by the industry’ resource provider for local oyster aquaculture farms. Working in collaboration with the Florida Sea Grant IFAS extension, they plan to equip local oyster farms with fresh seed, wet storage, and processing infrastructure. Josh Neese, founder and aquaculture veteran, started the business to generate a larger industry-wide impact and recognized that the most prevalent need of Gulf Coast oyster farmers is access to local seed.
The micro-hatchery model is critical in decentralizing the industry and creating more localized seed producers, promoting greater seafood authenticity, and growing the blue economy at a local level. Ultimately the micro-hatchery model will help restructure the industry and provide more producers with oyster seeds from their own area, which is critical to the success of these seeds given that seeds produced from out of their area, may or may not be suitable to the farms’ estuary.
While The Florida Oyster Trading Company is just getting started with their formal oyster seed production, Josh has been working with the aquaculture community in the Pensacola region for years. In addition to supporting and growing the commercial oyster aquaculture industry, they’ve engaged with traditional wild harvesters to identify the once fertile oyster beds in the south end of the bay for cultivation. They intend to restore oyster habitats to reinvigorate wild oyster populations through innovative and holistic restorative aquaculture practices. To do this, they’re leveraging the best international AgTech developed by SmartOysters and employing a small footprint to minimize overhead and maximize efficiency.
Use of Funds
This loan from Steward will go towards purchasing what’s needed for an oyster seed production setup including equipment, tanks, plumbing upgrades, lab supplies, certifications, and some marketing costs. All expenses will be used to get a new micro-hatchery and nursery ready to produce native oyster seed. With spring spawning-season upon us and fall spawning around the corner, the demand for sustainable oyster seed is clear and the delicious local oysters cultivated from the stock means revenue ready to spike.
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.
April 08, 2021
“We at The Florida Oyster Trading Company would like to thank all lenders that participated in our loan. We look forward to begin purchasing and facility build-out in order to begin production in May. Your participation will be instrumental in further developing the local aquaculture industry as well as the blue economy. Thank you.”
Seed Production Setup & Equipment - $20,000: Includes equipment needed for setup: larval tank, pump, upwelled, reservoir, filters, bags, YSI, blower
Plumbing - $1,800: Includes plumbing setup needed for quality oyster seed production
Lab Supplies - $2,500: Includes additional lab supplies needed to ensure quality oyster seed production
Certification - $200: Includes required certification to grow and sell oyster seeds
Marketing - $500: Includes website update for The Florida Oyster Trading Company
Total Budget - $25,000
This loan will be made to The Florida Oyster Trading Company, a Florida limited liability company, that is dedicated to providing quality oyster seed and other services to the U.S. aquaculture industry.
This loan is for setting up a micro-hatchery and nursery to produce oyster seed.
The total loan amount is $25,000 which will assist The Florida Oyster Trading Company in growing and expanding their business.
This loan is set at a 10% interest rate, with a 48-month term, and fully amortized monthly payments beginning in 12 months after funds are disbursed.