People have been eating oysters since the ice age, over 165,000 years ago. In ancient times the wealthy considered oysters a delicacy, but in the beginning of the 19th century they became a cheap source of protein for the working class. As a result, due to overfishing and disease from pollution and climate change, wild oyster reefs have become one of the world's most endangered habitats. In 2012, wild populations experienced a near-total collapse.
Farmed oysters are tasty, offer great ecological benefits, and are sustainable. The benefits of Farmed Oysters are numerous, starting with a growing process that doesn't use water, feed, fertilizer nor food and doesn't emit any greenhouse gas emissions. Each oyster is a tiny salt-water vacuum that can ingest water algae and filter other particulates in the water. This process allows more sunlight to reach the ocean floor and promotes the growth of eelgrass, a habitat for many other species. Oysters also filter 50 gallons of water daily from pollutants such as nitrogen due to agricultural runoff and climate change. They either expel these pollutants or absorb them in their shells or tissues. Larvae from certain farmed oysters, called diploids, escape from cages to seed the wild oyster population on their own.
Like coral, oysters and shells can form reefs to prevent erosion, protect the land from storms and tides, and act like little marine sanctuaries for other fish. Hundreds of fish grow, eat, and mate in farmed oyster cages. So the more oysters we have in the water, the healthier the water will be for our environment as well as other fish.