These techniques have been gradually refined and expanded. Today’s commercial oyster growers produce baby mollusks in large indoor hatcheries, where the water is warmed and augmented with algae to create exactly the sort of romantic environment that gets adult oysters to produce sperm and eggs. With wild fish populations struggling, farmed fish is the only segment of our seafood diet that is growing and now accounts for half of all seafood on the planet. Shellfish and seaweeds are the majority of that farmed seafood, in part because it makes such good sense to raise them. China alone is responsible for 70 percent of global fish farming, including the majority of oyster production. The most sophisticated operations raise their oysters in large metal racks that are mechanically flipped and shaken to simulate the actions of a rough sea (to help strengthen shells and encourage a more wild flavor). Others are breeding oysters that can withstand the warmer temperatures and other effects of climate change, including ocean acidification that makes it harder for baby oysters to build their calcium carbonate shells.
Photography by Lindsay Morris