Developing a micro-hatchery and nursery to grow native seed for local oyster farms
Funded on 04/07/2021
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.
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.
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:
Hello all Florida Oyster Trading Company lenders. We are excited about our progress and wanted to provide a quick update on our status - we have been focused on purchasing, facility build-out, and state regulatory approval since you have graciously supported our mission. We have received most of our big ticket items such as larval tanks, reservoir, and YSI water quality monitoring meter as well as much of our lab supplies such as tubing, beakers, and pipettes. Our upweller is currently being constructed and plumbing will begin as soon as next week. We have also submitted a site plan to the Florida Division of Aquaculture, who has initially signed off on the design and is awaiting build-out completion for final approval. At which time we will be assigned an “AQ#” and certified as a state-approved producer of seed.
Last night we hosted our first townhall since we received our Steward loan to provide the local oyster aquaculture community a status report and confirm that they can expect seed delivery mid-summer. The target date for beginning production is by the end of May with the exact spawning date depending on when the Auburn University Shellfish Lab provides the extracted and verified Florida tetraploid sperm to fertilize the locally harvested Pensacola diploid females - producing an authentic and certified Pensacola triploid seed to our local farmers. Bet no one was expecting genetics lessons throughout this venture. This unique product is not replicable anywhere else and will provide the local farms with a higher quality harvest with an authentic provenance of our estuary. More updates to come as the buildout nears completion and production begins. Thanks and talk soon.
“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.
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