SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The Port of San Diego has launched a project to grow oysters for research at six local oyster nurseries in San Diego Bay.
"Why not grow our own and what a great bay to table opportunity, and it's sustainable which is one of the best things about this,” said Port of San Diego Chairman Marshall Merrifield.
Small amounts of oysters are being grown at six different nursery sites representing the first California port to establish this type program.
"Oysters enhance the environment they grow in so we're really excited to start this new business,” continued Merrifield.
The oysters featured in the above video are a month and a half old. They started out as a pepper flake and will grow to the size of a quarter before being sold.
Paula Sylvia is the port's Aquaculture Program Manager and said 91 percent of the shellfish Americans consume is imported. And, up until now, the Pacific Northwest has contributed to the market, but Sylvia said oysters grow faster in warmer waters, so bringing the industry here makes sense.
"You know the port has taken this on as a new initiative so it provides a new opportunity to create infrastructure that businesses could operate in,” she continued.
The exact financial impact is unknown at this point, but Sylvia said if successful this project could lead to hundreds of local jobs. And while the oysters grown now will be sold to other farms where they will mature, one day the entire process from start to finish could very well be done right off the coast of San Diego.
"We just to have to set the stage and provide the baseline information so we can inform and make the best decisions with the most amount of information,” said Sylvia.
Port officials said they check on the oysters daily and sometimes twice a day.