The traditional processing and packaging of oysters in the historic oyster pits and sheds in Yerseke is well known. Explanations about oyster farming are given at various locations and during guided tours. The survival of this traditional culture is at risk for a number of reasons. By switching to new methods, it is hoped that oyster farming can continue. Tourists have been able to see these new methods with their own eyes since 2017 during a cruise on the Oosterschelde.
- Virus and an underwater enemy threaten the oyster
- No danger to public health
- Developing new forms of oyster farming on the Oosterschelde
- Plan of action: research and testing with the off-bottom culture
- Applying the French method of oyster farming in the Netherlands
- Experiments and developments in 2017
- Tourists can experience everything up close!
- See oyster farmers at work and taste oysters
- Locations of boat trips and tours in Yerseke
Virus and an underwater enemy threaten the oyster
In 2017, there are two things that could threaten the survival of oyster culture.
Since 2010, a herpes virus has been present in oysters, causing the death of many young oysters.
This is a small snail that bores a hole in the shell of the oyster. The snail or another seabed dweller then eats the oyster meat. Mainly young Japanese oysters (better known as the Zeeland creuse) fall prey to the oyster borer. These young oysters still have a thin shell and are of course easy prey. But growers also find many older (and therefore stronger) shells with a hole.
No danger to public health
The herpes virus was identified in France as early as 2008. The virus then spread further. In the Netherlands, the virus was first spotted in the Oosterschelde. It has also been observed in the Wadden Sea. It is important that the virus affects the oyster itself, but is harmless to humans!
Developing new forms of oyster farming on the Oosterschelde
Due to the threat of a virus and a predatory snail, the supply of oysters is shrinking. It takes an oyster a few years to grow into an oyster for consumption. If too many young oysters die, the supply of oysters for consumption will naturally decrease. The oyster farmers are looking for new cultivation methods and have started other and experimental forms of oyster cultivation. The experiments take place on the Oosterschelde.
Plan of action: research and testing with the off-bottom culture
The oyster farmers have requested help from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Science (Wageningen UR). Together, an action plan has been drawn up for the period 2016-2018. Scientists and growers work closely together in this process.
Applying the French method of oyster farming in the Netherlands
One of the most important outcomes is trying out new growing techniques. Actually an existing method that has been used in France for a long time, for example. The so-called ‘off-bottom cultivation’. Bags and baskets of oysters are grown on tables that stand at the bottom of the sea. Another way is to hang the oysters in cages or baskets on long lines. The underlying idea is that natural enemies such as the oyster borer do not get a chance in this way because the oysters are no longer on the bottom of the sea.
Experiments and developments in 2017
Several growers are experimenting with off-bottom techniques. While the oyster farmers are busy at sea, various machine companies are developing new designs. Often in response to input from the men at sea. By working together in this way, new inventions and improvements to equipment can be tried out quickly.
Tourists can experience everything up close!
From 2017 onwards, off-bottom cultivation can be seen up close. In addition to the sea, there is also a company at the oyster pit complex in Yerseke where, in addition to tasting oysters, people also receive information and explanations about the entire cultivation process. As of 2017, there is a boat trip to the oyster plots with demonstrations. During a two-hour cruise on a new boat, everyone can get a good impression of the ins and outs of oyster farming.
Source: Joakant, Pixabay
See oyster farmers at work and taste oysters
The cruise goes to an oyster farming plot on the Oosterschelde. There you can see what the breeding installations look like. An explanation is given about how the cultivation installations are used. To show the difference with traditional oyster farming, a trawl is done with an oyster trawl (trawl net). You can see with your own eyes what a large number of oysters look like up close. There is often still some bycatch in the net, so everyone has an idea of what lives on the seabed. In addition to a beautiful trip on the Oosterschelde and a demonstration on oyster farming, there is of course also the opportunity to taste oysters on board.
A . boarding location for the Wemeldinge
B cruise . boarding location on the Yerseke
C cruise . tour and tasting
D . guided tours of oyster wells
Locations of boat trips and tours in Yerseke
There are several locations to board the cruise or take a tour with an explanation about oyster farming. The boat trip to the oyster farming plots is from June to September. The boat then sails once in the morning and once in the afternoon. There is also a boarding option in Wemeldinge.
Guided tours are possible through the oyster pits led by a guide. There is also a company where you can take a look at how things are going in the oyster sector. And here too you can taste oysters again. A nice added bonus is that tasting can take place while you have a beautiful view of the historic oyster pits and the Oosterschelde. More information can be found on the VVV Zeeland website.