Our company Atlantic Shellfish Ltd, started farming Ostrea edulis in Cork Harbour, Ireland in 1969. Through the use of breeding ponds, the company built up a knowledge of how to breed oysters in this semi-intensive way. In 1987 the company was struck with the disease caused by Bonamia ostreae, and lost 13 million marketable oysters.
Since 1987, the company has used the ponds to run a selective breeding programme to breed from the few survivors of the disease. Through this programme, the company has been able to extend the life of a diseased oyster, so that marketable oysters are able to be harvested in 3 years, without much loss due to the disease. In the late 1990’s, the company was producing about 80 tonnes / year.
The company at present has a low turnover, due to sewage contamination in the water, but has managed to keep the “resistant” strain of oyster growing, by selective breeding in the summer. David and Tristan Hugh-Jones run this activity.