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Native oysters
Native oysters growing on rocks


About oysters

There are two species of oysters in Oregon esturaries: the commercially grown Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) and the native or Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida). Neither species is legal for recreational harvest. Native oyster populations are protected to encourage their recovery; since Pacific oysters are only commercially grown, they are private property .

Species profile

olympia oysters in hand

Olympia Oysters

Native oysters were once abundant in three of Oregon’s estuaries. Netarts and Yaquina Bays were heavily fished and depleted in the late 1800s. Coos Bay populations were historically very high also, but were absent upon European settlement.

Populations in these three bays are currently recovering; thanks in large part to the increased care communities have given to their estuaries in recent years. Additional species recovery aid has come from careful restoration projects and educational efforts undertaken by groups such as The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Confederated Tribes of Siletz, and South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve.

native oystersShell loving oysters

Native oysters adhere to rocks, shells, and other hard substrates. Their former species name "conchaphila" translates from Latin to "shell loving". This name alludes to the fact that past generations of oysters can provide habitat to future generations, in this way they are excellent reef builders. Oyster beds provide excellent estuarine habitat structure for other fish and invertebrates.

pacific oyster

Pacific Oysters

Pacific oysters are grown in many of Oregon's estuaries. Coos, Yaquina, Tillamook and Netarts are the largest producers of these commercial oysters. These oysters, native to Japan, are likely incapable of successful spawning in the cold waters of Oregon. This fact accompanied with their high value, ease of growing, and minimal enviromental impact makes them a good choice for a aquaculture.

commercial oyster cultureOyster culture

Pacific oysters are most often “ground cultured” in Oregon, meaning they are grown directly on the substrate rather than rack or hanging culture used in other states. They are typically harvested by hand in 2-4 year intervals, at which time they are ideal market size.






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