Oysters

TYTHING BARN - MORE ABOUT US:

We knew it would be hard work reclaiming the old tidal quarries before converting them into salt water lagoons, but we were ready.
The natural beauty of the area had been scarred by man during the 19th century when he cut in land and created the limestone quarries, a product much needed throughout Pembrokeshire. However, over time, nature has a habit of fighting back to reclaim its own, and so, in 1979, we rolled our sleeves up and work began in earnest.
We dredged out an old channel and built a dam across at a height which allowed the twice daily high tides to flood over. The plan worked, we had created the lagoons that would be regularly replenished with fresh salty water.
Pacific Oysters do not breed naturally in the cool waters around the British Isles, only in the controlled environment of a hatchery.
By creating the lagoons, it enabled us to set up 'Nurseries' within the calm, plankton rich waters, needed to harden off the 2mm seed or 'spat', prior to them being transferred to the open estuary.
Near the dam, we installed a pump that circulated water around the islands at 8 tonnes per minute ensuring a constant supply of nutrition.
The raft shown to the right, housed a million spat in sieve-like 'upwelling' pots, each fed by the rich waters of the lagoon.
We transferred them to plastic mesh bags, carefully positioning them on specially adapted pontoons which were floated out into the Carew section of the estuary.
There, they would be spread out over 5 acres of sea bed resting on timber trestles to enjoy the regular bounty of the twice daily tides as food was brought to them.
During the summer, the 10,000 bags were manually turned each month to control any possible fouling of their growth.
To meet market demand, Carew Oysters employed four people full time producing 4 million Oysters per year (200 - 250 tonnes).
At 10mm, the spat were spread out on trays in the lagoon channel where they could receive the horizontal flow of water from the nursery pump.
The suspended system, seen to the left, ensured their growth became faster, and on occasions, were known to 'graze' the water clear.
As the spat grew to 15mm, they became too greedy for the intensive culture of the lagoons and had to be moved into open water.
On Thursday 15th February 1996, having just secured a contract with Morrison's Supermarket, we attended a new book launch by Shirly Line called 'A Passion For Oysters'. Whilst there, we heard the news that an oil tanker (MV Sea Empress) had gone aground and ruptured her hull in the Milford Haven waterway.
Several tugs had attempted to pull her free, but in the process had ripped more holes in her hull. The effect was catastrophic!
It was estimated that 73,000 tonnes of oil escaped and the subsequent clean-up meant using detergents. In consequence,  the oil particulates broke up and dispersed within the water ways effecting  the whole area, and more importantly to us, the food cycle of the Cleddau and Carew rivers. The net result was the loss of major contracts which effectively killed our business instantly.
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