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Oyster Season Update: Spring 2022

Supply Challenges Mark Beginning of 2022 Oyster Season

As the days grow warmer and we look towards the summer and outside gatherings, many of us will look to add oysters and shellfish to our cookout and dinner menus. This spring, we are seeing a limited supply of oysters caused by issues on both the US and Canadian coasts.

Canadian Oyster Recall

There has been a concentrated effort by the media to convey a norovirus oyster recall in mid-April. What the media did not properly communicate was that the recall is limited to Canadian west coast oysters only — specifically within the south and central parts of Baynes Sound, British Columbia, Canada. Eastern Canadian Oysters from PEI & New Brunswick are not affected. Lobsters Online currently only carries oysters from Massachusetts.

The early spring is typically a time to prepare equipment and give oysters more time to grow.

East Coast Oyster Season Starts Now

There are several things in play that are impacting the east coast oyster supply right now. This will be a fluid situation over the next few months, but here are a few of the factors that are contributing to what is happening and why availability is impacted:

  • Normal Grow-Out Cycles – This time of year some farms are sold out of their matured oysters and will not have more until next season’s batch are ready. This typically happens by May or June, depending on water temperatures. We are seeing this impact the oyster supply currently as we usually do.
  • Abnormal Mortality Rates - Farmers typically experience some percentage of dead oysters when they harvest oysters from the water. This year many farms on the East Coast (especially on the Cape) are experiencing 70% or more of dead oysters, which is having a large impact on the number of oysters available in the market. This is not a usual variable when it come so the supply chain.
  • Ice in Canada – It is typical this time of year to see a lack of oysters from Canada, but there is a greater impact this year due to what is happening with the local oyster market. In Canada, the ice is currently too thick to break through, but too thin to drive on for harvesting. It’s a waiting game right now but when the ice clears, the supply in Eastern Canada should start to free up.
  • Reduced Oyster Seed Planting Due to Covid-19 – We could not talk about supply issues without mentioning Covid. Back in 2020, when the world was in quarantine & living socially distanced lives, the oyster farmers were not planting seed. Because of the interruption in the standard seeding process, there will be lingering effects to the oyster population over the course of the next 12 months. Most harvesters will not be able to produce the same volume of oysters as seen in previous years as a result of this period of the limited oyster seed planting season in spring 2020.

We continue to partner with Channel Rock Oysters and other local farms here in Massachusetts to bring you the highest quality oysters. You can purchase those by clicking here.