Aquaculture North America

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Pocket hatchery helps revitalize oyster sector on Long Island


March 21, 2016
By Quentin Dodd

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New Yorker Ted Bucci would like to be remembered for the part he played revitalizing oyster farming on Long Island. A former teacher, Bucci never expected to find himself doing what he is today – farming oysters. But an experience he had teaching environmental science to juvenile offenders changed the course of his life.

Working with students attending the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County at the marine science center in Southold, inspired him and in 2011 he launched Harbor Lights Oyster Company. He’s never looked back.

Today he is in the process of a major refit of his “pocket oyster hatchery.” And he likes the idea that others may follow his example – buying a 3m x 15m (10ftx50ft) used trailer or refrigeration unit on wheels, installing the necessary tanks, pumps etc, and setting up a full mobile hatchery. Two key advantages are that it’s not likely to attract property taxes and can be moved in the event of harsh winter storms or to help another farmer in need of seed.

         Permits from environmental and fisheries authorities are of course, necessary. Even so, Bucci estimates that his start-up costs will be about $25,000 including pumps, tanks, etc.

Bucci has obtained the lease on 10 acres of water, put in a flupsy at his dock, designed two more space-efficient units and built and installed three rafts for oyster cages, each capable of holding some 30 cages of 600 oysters. He intends to be growing a minimum of a million market-sized oysters a year within two years, and has his sights set on five to six million in the years ahead.

         Ted Bucci remembers a vibrant oyster industry in Greenport on Long Island and regrets the gentrification of the grounds. He takes a quiet pride in knowing that his work will help revitalize the sector and provide a local source of honest income. Hard work, but Bucci loves it.

Quentin Dodd