Mattapoisett oysters population on the rise, thanks to town experiment
Thousands of oysters grown from seed in Mattapoisett have been released into Pine Island Pond, and if all goes well, they will spawn thousands more.
Assistant Natural Resources Officer Kevin Magowan headed up the town’s first oyster farm. Beginning in June 2013, the town began growing 100,000 oyster seed in an upweller. The oysters were transferred to mesh grow-out bags and put in Pine Island Pond for the winter.
After the winter, Magowan said there were around 50,000 oysters still alive. They were then floated in bags during the summer and had grown to an average of 1.8 inches by June. By the end of September, they averaged 2.8 inches. The legal size is 3 inches.
For three Saturdays, volunteers have released around 12,400 legal sized oysters and 6,400 “sublegal” oysters that are near legal size. There are still more to broadcast, said Magowan.
Pine Island Pond was already a natural habitat for oysters, so the location is optimal for them to grow, he said.
Each female oyster can also spawn 10 to 30 million eggs in one summer, according to Magowan. Those oyster seed, in addition to more fostered seed fostered by the town would make a definite impact.
As to whether or not the oyster experiment was a success, Magowan said commercially-raised oysters sell for about $.55 each.
“I think we can beat that, and if we can’t, we definitely can next year. It’s a relatively cheap project, and I think we could see a pretty good increase in oysters,” he said.
Since the town has already invested in the upweller, it would cost a little more than $2,000 to cultivate another round of oyster seed.
“I like this method a lot better. It’s a sustainable fishery in that area,” Selectman Jordan Collyer said. “I wouldn’t hesitate to commit one more year or two more years.”